The Epic of Kings

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					                           The Epic of Kings

                                   by Firdausi

                       translated by Helen Zimmern1

                 printable version created on 10/07/2007
                         Davud Rostam-Afschar

    This translation is in the public domain.

1 THE SHAHS OF OLD                      1

2 FERIDOUN                              9

3 ZAL                                  19

4 ZAL AND RUDABEH                      25

5 RUSTEM                               41



8 RUSTEM AND SOHRAB                    75

9 SAIAWUSH                             97


11 FIROUD                             123


13 BYZUN AND MANIJEH                  141

14 THE DEFEAT OF AFRASIYAB            153


16 ISFENDIYAR                         167

17 RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR              173

18 THE DEATH OF RUSTEM                187

Chapter 1


K         AIUMERS first sat upon the throne of Persia, and was master of the
world. He took up his abode in the mountains, and clad himself and his people
in tiger-skins, and from him sprang all kindly nurture and the arts of clothing,
till then unknown. Men and beasts from all parts of the earth came to do him
homage and receive laws at his hands, and his glory was like to the sun. Then
Ahriman the Evil, when he saw how the Shahs honour was increased, waxed
envious, and sought to usurp the diadem of the world. So he bade his son,
a mighty Deev, gather together an army to go out against Kaiumers and his
beloved son Saiamuk and destroy them utterly.

Now the Serosch, the angel who defendeth men from the snares of the Deevs,
and who each night flieth seven times around the earth that he may watch over
the children of Ormuzd, when he learned this, appeared like unto a Peri and
warned Kaiumers. So when Saiamuk set forth at the head of his warriors to
meet the army of Ahriman, he knew that he was contending against a Deev, and
he put forth all his strength. But the Deev was mightier than he, and overcame
him, and crushed him under his hands.

When Kaiumers heard the news of mourning, he was bowed to the ground.
For a year did he weep without ceasing, and his army wept with him; yea, even
the savage beasts and the birds of the air joined in the wailing. And sorrow
reigned in the land, and all the world was darkened until the Serosch bade the
Shah lift his head and think on vengeance. And Kaiumers obeyed, and com-
manded Husheng, the son of Saiamuk, Take the lead of the army, and march
against the Deevs. And the King, by reason of his great age, went in the rear.
Now there were in the host Peris; also tigers, lions, wolves, and other fierce crea-
tures, and when the black Deev heard their roaring he trembled for very fear.
Neither could he hold himself against them, and Husheng routed him utterly.

2                                       CHAPTER 1. THE SHAHS OF OLD

Then when Kaiumers saw that his well-beloved son was revenged he laid him
down to die, and the world was void of him, and Husheng reigned in his stead.

Now Husheng was a wise man and just, and the heavens revolved over his
throne forty years. justice did he spread over the land, and the world was
better for his reign. For he first gave to men fire, and showed them how to
draw it from out the stone; and he taught them how they might lead the rivers,
that they should water the land and make it fertile; and he bade them till and
reap. And he divided the beasts and paired them and gave them names. And
when he passed to a brighter life he left the world empty of a throne of power.
But Tahumers, his son, was not unworthy of his sire. He too opened the eyes
of men, and they learned to spin and to weave; and he reigned over the land
long and mightily. But of him also were the Deevs right envious, and sought
to destroy him. Yet Tahumers overcame them and cast them to earth. Then
some craved mercy at his hands, and sware how they would show him an art if
he would spare them, and Tahumers listened to their voice. And they taught
him the art of writing, and thus from the evil Deevs came a boon upon mankind.

Howbeit when Tahumers had sat upon the golden throne for the space of thirty
years he passed away, but his works endured; and Jemshid, his glorious son,
whose heart was filled with the counsels of his father, came after him. Now
Jemshid reigned over the land seven hundred years girt with might, and Deevs,
birds, and Peris obeyed him. And the world was happier for his sake, and he too
was glad, and death was unknown among men, neither did they wot of pain or
sorrow. And he first parcelled out men into classes; priests, warriors, artificers,
and husbandmen did he name them. And the year also he divided into periods.
And by aid of the Deevs he raised mighty works, and Persepolis was builded
by him, that to this day is called Tukht-e-Jemsheed, which being interpreted
meaneth the throne of Jemshid. Then, when these things were accomplished,
men flocked from all corners of the earth around his throne to do him homage
and pour gifts before his face. And Jemshid prepared a feast, and bade them
keep it, and called it Neurouz, which is the New Day, and the people of Persia
keep it to this hour. And Jemshids power increased, and the world was at peace,
and men beheld in him nought but what was good.

Then it came about that the heart of Jemshid was uplifted in pride, and he
forgot whence came his weal and the source of his blessings. He beheld only
himself upon the earth, and he named himself God, and sent forth his image
to be worshipped. But when he had spoken thus, the Mubids, which are as-
trologers and wise men, hung their heads in sorrow, and no man knew how he
should answer the Shah. And God withdrew his hand from Jemshid, and the
kings and the nobles rose up against him, and removed their warriors from his
court, and Ahriman had power over the land.

Now there dwelt in the deserts of Arabia a king named Mirtas, generous and
just, and he had a son, Zohak, whom he loved. And it came about that Ahri-

man visited the palace disguised as a noble, and tempted Zohak that he should
depart from the paths of virtue. And he spake unto him and said
     If thou wilt listen to me, and enter into a covenant, I will raise thy
     head above the sun.

Now the young man was guileless and simple of heart, and he sware unto the
Deev that he would obey him in all things. Then Ahriman bade him slay his
father, for this old man, he said, cumbereth the ground, and while he liveth
thou wilt remain unknown. When Zohak heard this he was filled with grief, and
would have broken his oath, but Ahriman suffered him not, but made him set a
trap for Mirtas. And Zohak and the evil Ahriman held their peace and Mirtas
fell into the snare and was killed. Then Zohak placed the crown of Thasis upon
his head, and Ahriman taught him the arts of magic, and he ruled over his
people in good and evil, for he was not yet wholly given up to guile.

Then Ahriman imagined a device in his black heart. He took upon himself
the form of a youth, and craved that he might serve the King as cook. And
Zohak, who knew him not, received him well and granted his request, and the
keys of the kitchen were given unto him. Now hitherto men had been nourished
with herbs, but Ahriman prepared flesh for Zohak. New dishes did he put before
him, and the royal favour was accorded to his savory meats. And the flesh gave
the King courage and strength like to that of a lion, and he commanded that
his cook should be brought before him and ask a boon at his hands. And the
cook said
     If the King take pleasure in his servant, grant that he may kiss his
Now Zohak, who feared no evil, granted the request, and Ahriman kissed him
on his shoulders. And when he had done so, the ground opened beneath his
feet and covered the cook, so that all men present were amazed thereat. But
from his kiss sprang hissing serpents, venomous and black; and the King was
afraid, and desired that they should be cut off from the root. But as often as
the snakes were cut down did they grow again, and in vain the wise men and
physicians cast about for a remedy. Then Ahriman came once again disguised
as a learned man, and was led before Zohak, and he spake, saying
     This ill cannot be healed, neither can the serpents be uprooted.
     Prepare food for them, therefore, that they may be fed, and give
     unto them for nourishment the brains of men, for perchance this
     may destroy them.

But in his secret heart Ahriman desired that the world might thus be made
desolate; and daily were the serpents fed, and the fear of the King was great
in the land. The world withered in his thrall, the customs of good men were
forgotten, and the desires of the wicked were accomplished.
4                                       CHAPTER 1. THE SHAHS OF OLD

Now it was spread abroad in Iran that in the land of Thasis there reigned a
man who was mighty and terrible to his foes. Then the kings and nobles who
had withdrawn from Jemshid because he had rebelled against God, turned to
Zohak and besought him that he would be their ruler, and they proclaimed him
Shah. And the armies of Arabia and Persia marched against Jemshid, and he
fled before their face. For the space of twice fifty years no man knew whither
he was gone, for he hid from the wrath of the Serpent-King. But in the fulness
of time he could no longer escape the fury of Zohak, whose servants found him
as he wandered on the sea-shore of Cathay, and they sawed him in twain, and
sent tidings thereof to their lord. And thus perished the throne and power of
Jemshid like unto the grass that withereth, because that he was grown proud,
and would have lifted himself above his Maker.

So the beloved of Ahriman, Zohak the Serpent, sat upon the throne of Iran,
the kingdom of Light. And he continued to pile evil upon evil till the measure
thereof was full to overflowing, and all the land cried out against him. But Zo-
hak and his councillors, the Deevs, shut ear unto this cry, and the Shah reigned
thus for the space of a thousand years, and vice stalked in daylight, but virtue
was hidden. And despair filled all hearts, for it was as though mankind must
perish to still the appetite of those snakes sprung from Evil, for daily were two
men slaughtered to satisfy their desire. Neither had Zohak mercy upon any
man. And darkness was spread over the land because of his wickedness.

But Ormuzd saw it and was moved with compassion for his people, and he
declared they should no longer suffer for the sin of Jemshid. And he caused a
grandson to be born to Jemshid, and his parents called him Feridoun.

Now it befell that when he was born, Zohak dreamed he beheld a youth slender
like to a cypress, and he came towards him bearing a cow-headed mace, and
with it he struck Zohak to the ground. Then the tyrant awoke and trembled,
and called for his Mubids, that they should interpret to him this dream. And
they were troubled, for they foresaw danger, and he menaced them if they fore-
told him evil. And they were silent for fear three days, but on the fourth one
who had courage spake and said
     There will arise one named Feridoun, who shall inherit thy throne
     and reverse thy fortunes, and strike thee down with a cow-headed
When Zohak heard these words he swooned, and the Mubids fled before his
wrath. But when he had recovered he bade the world be scoured for Feridoun.
And henceforth Zohak was consumed for bitterness of spirit, and he knew nei-
ther rest nor joy.

Now it came about that the mother of Feridoun feared lest the Shah should
destroy the child if he learned that he was sprung from Jemshids race. So she
hid him in the thick forest where dwelt the wondrous cow Purmaieh, whose hairs

were like unto the plumes of a peacock for beauty. And she prayed the guardian
of Purmaieh to have a care of her son, and for three years he was reared in
the wood, and Purmaieh was his nurse. But when the time was accomplished
the mother knew that news of Purmaieh had reached the ears of Zohak, and
she feared he would find her son. Therefore she took him far into Ind, to a
pious hermit who dwelt on the Mount Alberz. And she prayed the hermit to
guard her boy, who was destined for mighty deeds. And the hermit granted her
request. And it befell that while she sojourned with him Zohak had found the
beauteous Purmaieh and learned of Feridoun, and when he heard that the boy
was fled he was like unto a mad elephant in his fury. He slew the wondrous cow
and all the living things round about, and made the forest a desert. Then he
continued his search, but neither tidings nor sight could he get of Feridoun, and
his heart was filled with anguish.

In this year Zohak caused his army to be strengthened, and he demanded of
his people that they should certify that he had ever been to them a just and
noble king. And they obeyed for very fear. But while they sware there arose
without the doorway of the Shah the cry of one who demanded justice. And
Zohak commanded that he should be brought in, and the man stood before the
assembly of the nobles.

Then Zohak opened his mouth and said, I charge thee give a name unto him
who hath done thee wrong.

And the man, when he saw it was the Shah who questioned him, smote his
head with his hands. But he answered and said
     I am Kawah, a blacksmith and a blameless man, and I sue for jus-
     tice, and it is against thee, O King, that I cry out. Seventeen fair
     sons have I called mine, yet only one remaineth to me, for that his
     brethren were slain to still the hunger of thy serpents, and now they
     have taken from me this last child also. I pray thee spare him unto
     me, nor heap thy cruelties upon the land past bearing.
And the Shah feared Kawahs wrath, beholding that it was great, and he granted
him the life of his son and sought to win him with soft words. Then he prayed
him that he would also sign the testimony that Zohak was a just and noble king.

But Kawah cried, Not so, thou wicked and ignoble man, ally of Deevs, I will
not lend my hand unto this lie, and he seized the declaration and tore it into
fragments and scattered them into the air. And when he had done so he strode
forth from the palace, and all the nobles and people were astonished, so that
none dared uplift a finger to restrain him. Then Kawah went to the market-
place and related to the people all that which he had seen, and recalled to them
the evil deeds of Zohak and the wrongs they had suffered at his hands. And
he provoked them to shake off the yoke of Ahriman. And taking off the leath-
ern apron wherewith blacksmiths cover their knees when they strike with the
6                                       CHAPTER 1. THE SHAHS OF OLD

hammer, he raised it aloft upon the point of a lance and cried

     Be this our banner to march forth and seek out Feridoun and entreat
     him that he deliver us from out the hands of the Serpent-King.

Then the people set up a shout of joy and gathered themselves round Kawah,
and he led them out of the city bearing aloft his standard. And they marched
thus for many days unto the palace of Feridoun.

Now these things came about in the land of Iran after twice eight years were
passed over the head of Feridoun. And when that time was accomplished, he
descended from the Mount Alberz and sought out his mother, questioning her of
his lineage. And she told him how that he was sprung from the race of Jemshid,
and also of Zohak and of his evil deeds.

Then said Feridoun, I will uproot this monster from the earth, and his palace
will I raze to the dust.

But his mother spake, and said, Not so, my son, let not thine youthful anger
betray thee; for how canst thou stand against all the world?

Yet not long did she suffer the hard task to hinder him, for soon a mighty
crowd came towards the palace led by one who bare an apron uplifted upon a
lance. Then Feridoun knew that succour was come unto him. And when he had
listened to Kawah, he came into the presence of his mother with the helmet of
kings upon his head, and he said unto her

     Mother, I go to the wars, and it remaineth for thee to pray God for
     my safety.

Then he caused a mighty club to be made for him, and he traced the pattern
thereof upon the ground, and the top thereof was the head of a cow, in memory
of Purmaieh, his nurse. Then he cased the standard of Kawah in rich brocades
of Roum, and hung jewels upon it. And when all was made ready, they set forth
towards the West to seek out Zohak, for, they knew not that he was gone to Ind
in search of Feridoun. Now when they were come to Bagdad, which is upon the
banks of the Tigris, they halted, and Feridoun bade the guardians of the flood
convey them across. But these refused, saying, the King bade that none should
pass save only those who bore the royal seal. When Feridoun heard these words
he was wroth, and he regarded not the rushing river nor the dangers hidden
within its floods. He girded his loins and plunged with his steed into the waters,
and all the army followed after him. Now they struggled sore with the rushing
stream, and it seemed as though the waves would bear them down. But their
brave horses overcame all dangers, and they stepped in safety upon the shore.
Then they turned their faces towards the city which is now called Jerusalem,
for here stood the glorious house that Zohak had builded. And when they had
entered the city all the people rallied round Feridoun, for they hated Zohak

and looked to Feridoun to deliver them. And he slew the Deevs that held the
palace, and cast down the evil talisman that was graven upon the walls. Then
he mounted the throne of the idolater and placed the crown of Iran upon his
head, and all the people bowed down before him and called him Shah.

Now when Zohak returned from his search after Feridoun and learned that
he was seated upon his throne, he encompassed the city with his host. But the
army of Feridoun marched against him, and the desires of the people went with
them. And all that day bricks fell from the walls and stones from the terraces,
and it rained arrows and spears like to hail falling from a dark cloud, until Feri-
doun had overcome the might of Zohak. Then Feridoun raised his cow-headed
mace to slay the Serpent-King. But the blessed Serosch swooped down, and
      Not so, strike not, for Zohaks hour is not yet come.
Then the Serosch bade the Shah bind the usurper and carry him far from the
haunts of men, and there fasten him to a rock. And Feridoun did as he was
bidden, and led forth Zohak to the Mount Demawend. And he bound him to
the rock with mighty chains and nails driven into his hands, and left him to
perish in agony. And the hot sun shone down upon the barren cliffs, and there
was neither tree nor shrub to shelter him, and the chains entered into his flesh,
and his tongue was consumed with thirst. Thus after a while the earth was
delivered of Zohak the evil one, and Feridoun reigned in his stead.
Chapter 2


F        IVE hundred years did Feridoun rule the world, and might and virtue
increased in the land, and all his days he did that which was good. And he
roamed throughout the kingdom to seek out that which was open and that
which was hid, and wrong was righted at his hands. With kindness did he curb
the sway of evil. He ordered the world like to a paradise, he planted the cypress
and the rose where the wild herb had sprouted.

Now after many years were passed there were born to him three sons, whose
mother was of the house of Jemshid. And the sons were fair of mien, tall and
strong, yet their names were not known to men, for Feridoun had not tested
their hearts. But when he beheld that they were come to years of strength he
called them about his throne and bade them search out the King of Yemen, who
had three daughters, fair as the moon, that they should woo them unto them-
selves. And the sons of Feridoun did according to the command of their father.
They set forth unto Yemen, and there went with them a host countless as the
stars. And when they were come to Yemen, the King came forth to greet them,
and his train was like to the plumage of a pheasant. Then the sons of Feridoun
gained the hands of the daughters of Serv, King of Yemen, and departed with
them to their own land. And Serv gave to his new sons much treasure laid upon
the backs of camels, and umbrellas too did he give unto them in sign of kingship.

Now it came about that when Feridoun learned that his sons were returning,
he went forth to meet them and prove their hearts. So he took upon him the
form of a dragon that foamed at the mouth with fury, and from whose jaws
sprang mighty flames. And when his sons were come near unto the mountain
pass, he came upon them suddenly, like to a whirlwind, and raised a cloud of
dust about the place with his writhings, and his roaring filled the air with noise.
Then he threw himself upon the eldest born, and the prince laid down his spear

10                                                   CHAPTER 2. FERIDOUN

and said, A wise and prudent man striveth not with dragons. And he turned his
back and fled before the monster, and left him to fall upon his brothers. Then
the dragon sprang upon the second, and he said, An it be that I must fight,
what matter if it be a furious lion or a knight full of valour? So he took his bow
and stretched it. But the youngest came towards him, and seeing the dragon,
said, Thou reptile, flee from our presence, and strut not in the path of lions.
For if thou hast heard the name of Feridoun, beware how thou doest thus, for
we are his sons, armed with spears and ready for the fight. Quit therefore, I
counsel thee, thine evil path, lest I plant upon thy head the crown of enmity.

Then the glorious Feridoun, when he had thus made trial of their hearts, van-
ished from their sight. But presently he came again with the face of their father,
and many warriors, elephants, and cymbals were in his train. And Feridoun bore
in his hand the cow-headed mace, and the Kawanee, the apron of Kawah, the
kingly standard, was waved above his head. Now when the sons saw their fa-
ther, they alighted from their steeds and ran to greet him, and kissed the ground
before his feet. And the cymbals were clashed, and the trumpets brayed, and
sounds of rejoicing were heard around. Then Feridoun raised his sons and kissed
their foreheads, and gave unto them honour according to their due. And when
they were come to the royal house he prayed to God that He would bless his
offspring, and calling them about him, he seated them upon thrones of splen-
dour. Then he opened his mouth and said unto them

O my sons, listen unto the words that I shall speak. The raging dragon whose
breath was danger was but your father, who sought to test your hearts, and
having learned them gave way with joy. But now will I give to you names such
as are fitting unto men. The first-born shall be called Silim (may thy desires be
accomplished in the world!) for thou soughtest to save thyself from the clutches
of the dragon, nor didst thou hesitate in the hour of flight. A man who fleeth
neither before an elephant nor a lion, call him rather foolhardy than brave. And
the second, who from the beginning showed his courage, which was ardent as a
flame, I will call him Tur, the courageous, whom even a mad elephant cannot
daunt. But the youngest is a man prudent and brave, who knoweth both how to
haste and how to tarry; he chose the midway between the flame and the ground,
as it beseemeth a man of counsel, and he hath proven himself brave, prudent,
and bold. Irij shall he be called, that the gate of power may be his goal, for first
did he show gentleness, but his bravery sprang forth at the hour of danger.

When Feridoun had thus opened his lips he called for the book wherein are
written the stars, and he searched for the planets of his sons. And he found
that Jupiter reigned in the sign of the Archer in the house of Silim, and the sun
in the Lion in that of Tur, but in the house of Irij there reigned the moon in
the Scorpion. And when he saw this he was sorrowful, for he knew that for Irij
were grief and bale held in store. Then having read the secrets of Fate, Feridoun
parted the world and gave the three parts unto his sons in suzerainty. Roum and
Khaver, which are the lands of the setting sun, did he give unto Silim. Turan

and Turkestan did he give unto Tur, and made him master of the Turks and of
China, but unto Irij he gave Iran, with the throne of might and the crown of

For many years had the sons of Feridoun sat upon their golden thrones in
happiness and peace, but evil was hidden in the bosom of Fate. For Feridoun
had grown old, and his strength inclined to the grave. And as his life waned,
the evil passions of his sons waxed stronger. The heart of Silim was changed,
and his desires turned towards evil; his soul also was steeped in greed. And
he pondered in his spirit the parting of the lands, and he revolted thereat in
his thoughts, because that the youngest bore the crown of supremacy. Then
he bade a messenger mount him upon a dromedary swift of foot, and bear this
saying unto Tur

     O King of Turan, thy brother greeteth thee, and may thy days be
     long in the land. Tell unto me, I pray thee, for thou hast might and
     wisdom, should we remain thus ever satisfied, for surely unto us, not
     unto Irij, pertaineth the throne of Iran, but now is our brother set
     above our heads, and should we not strive against the injustice of
     our father?

Now. when Tur had listened to these words, his head was filled with wind, and
he spake unto the messenger and said

     Say unto your master, O my brother, full of courage, since our fa-
     ther deceived us when we were young and void of guile, with his
     own hands hath he planted a tree whence must issue fruit of blood
     and leaves that are poison. Let us therefore meet and take counsel
     together how we may rid us of our evil fate.

When Silim heard this he set forth from Roum, and Tur also quitted China, and
they met to counsel together how they should act. Then they sent a messenger
unto Feridoun the glorious, and they said

     O King, aged and great, fearest thou not to go home unto thy God?
     for evil hast thou done, and injustice dost thou leave behind thee.
     Thy realm hast thou allotted with iniquity, and thine eldest born
     hast thou treated with disfavour. But we thy sons entreat thee that
     ere it be too late thou listen to our voice. Command thou Irij to
     step down from the throne of Iran, and hide him in some corner of
     the earth, that he be weak and forgotten like ourselves. Yet if thou
     doest not our bidding, we will bring forth riders from Turkestan and
     Khaver filled with vengeance, and will utterly destroy Irij and the
     land of Iran.

When Feridoun had listened to these hard words he was angered, and straight-
way said
12                                                  CHAPTER 2. FERIDOUN

     Speak unto these men, senseless and impure, these sons of Ahriman,
     perverse of heart, and say unto them, Feridoun rejoiceth that ye have
     laid bare before him your hearts, for now he knoweth what manner
     of men ye are. And he answereth unto you that he hath parted his
     realm with equity. Many counsellors did he seek, and night and day
     did they ponder it, and gave unto each that which seemed best in
     their sight. And he now speaketh unto you a word that he doth bid
     you treasure in your hearts, As ye sow, so also shall ye reap, for there
     is for us another, an eternal home. And this is the rede sent unto
     you by an aged man, that he who betrayeth his brother for greed is
     not worthy to be sprung from a noble race. So pray unto God that
     He turn your hearts from evil.

When the messenger had heard these words he departed. Then Feridoun called
Irij before him and warned him against the craft of his brethren, and bade him
prepare an army and go forth to meet them. But Irij, when he had heard of the
evil thoughts of his brothers, was moved, and said

     Not so, O my father, suffer that I go forth alone and speak unto my
     brethren, that I may still the anger that they feel against me. And
     I will entreat them that they put not their trust in the glory of this
     world, and will recall unto them the name of Jemshid, and how that
     his end was evil because that he was uplifted in his heart.

Then Feridoun answered and said, Go forth, my son, if such be thy desire. The
wish of thy brethren is even unto war, but thou seekest the paths of peace. Yet
I pray thee take with thee worthy knights, and return unto me with speed, for
my life is rooted in thy happiness.

And he gave him a letter signed with his royal seal that he should bear it
unto the kings of Roum and China. And Feridoun wrote how that he was old,
and desired neither gold nor treasures, save only that his sons should be united.
And he commended unto them his youngest born, who was descended from his
throne and come forth to meet them with peace in his heart.

Now when Irij was come to the spot where his brethren were encamped, the
army saw him and was filled with wonder at his beauty and at his kingly form,
and they murmured among themselves, saying, Surely this one alone is worthy
to bear the sceptre. But when Silim and Tur heard this murmur their anger was
deepened, and they retreated into their tents, and all night long did they hold
counsel how they might do hurt unto their brother.

Now when the curtain that hid the sun was lifted, the brethren went forth
unto the tents of Irij. And Irij would have greeted them, but they suffered him
not, but straightway began to question him, and heap reproaches upon his head.
And Tur said

     Why hast thou uplifted thyself above us, and is it meet that thy
     elders bow down before thee?
When Irij heard their words, he answered, O Kings greedy of power, I say unto
you, if ye desire happiness, strive after peace. I covet neither the royal crown
nor the hosts of Iran; power that endeth in discord is an honour that leadeth
to tears. And I will step down from the throne of Iran if it shall foster peace
between us, for I crave not the possession of the world if ye are afflicted by the
sight. For I am humble of heart, and my faith bids me be kind.

Now Tur heard these words, but they softened not his spirit, for he knew only
that which is evil, and wist not that Irij spoke truly. And he took up the chair
whereon he sat and threw it at his brother in his anger. Then Irij called for
mercy at his hands, saying
     O King, hast thou no fear of God, no pity for thy father? I pray
     thee destroy me not, lest God ask vengeance for my blood. Let it
     not be spoken that thou who hast life takest that gift from others.
     Do not this evil. Crush not even the tiny ant that beareth a grain
     of corn, for she hath life, and sweet life is a boon. I will vanish from
     thy sight, I will live in solitude and secrecy, so thou grant that I may
     yet behold the sun.
But these words angered Tur only the more, and he drew from his boot a dagger
that was poisoned and sharp, and he thrust it into the breast of Irij, the kingly
cedar. And the young lord of the world paled and was dead. Then Tur cut the
head from the trunk, and filled it with musk and ambergris, and sent it unto
the old man his father, who had parted the world, saying
     Behold the head of thy darling, give unto him now the crown and
     the throne.
And when they had done this evil deed the brethren furled their tents, and
turned them back again unto the lands of Roum and Cathay.

Now Feridoun held his eyes fastened upon the road whither Irij was gone, and
his heart yearned after him. And when he heard that the time of his return
was come, he bade a host go forth to meet him, and he himself went in the
wake. Now when they were gone but a little way they beheld a mighty cloud of
dust upon the sky. And the cloud neared, and there came thence a dromedary
whereon was seated a knight clad in the garb of woe. And he bare in his arms
a casket of gold, and in the casket were rich stuffs of silk, and in the stuffs was
wrapped the head of Irij. And when Feridoun beheld the face of the messenger
his heart was smote with fear, but when he saw the head of his son he fell from
his horse with sorrow. Then a cry of wailing rent the air, and the army shouted
for grief, and the flags were torn, and the drums broken, and the elephants and
cymbals hung with the colours of mourning, because that Irij was gone from the
world. And Feridoun returned on foot unto the city, and all the nobles went
14                                                  CHAPTER 2. FERIDOUN

with him, and they retraced their steps in the dust. Now when they were come
to the garden of Irij, Feridoun faltered in his sorrow, and he pressed the head
of the young King, his son, unto his breast. And he cast black earth upon his
throne, and tore his hair, and shed tears, and his cries mounted even unto the
seventh sphere. And he spake in his grief and said

     O Master of the world, that metest out justice, look down, I pray
     thee, upon this innocent whom his brethren have foully murdered!
     Sear their hearts that joy cannot enter, and grant unto me my prayer.
     Suffer that I may live until a hero, a warrior mighty to avenge, be
     sprung from the seed of Irij. Then when I shall have beheld his face I
     will go hence as it beseemeth me and the earth shall cover my body.

Thus wept Feridoun in the bitterness of his soul, neither would he take comfort
day and night, nor quit the garden of his son. And the earth was his couch
and the dust his bed, and he watered the ground with his tears. And he rested
in this spot till that the grass was grown above his bosom, and his eyes were
blinded with weeping. Yet his tongue did not cease from plaining and his heart
from sorrow. And he cried continually

     O Irij, O my son, my son, never prince died a death like thine! Thy
     head was severed by Ahriman, thy body torn by lions.

Thus mourned Feridoun, and the voice of lamentation was abroad.

Then it came about that after many years had passed Feridoun bethought him
of the daughter of Irij, and how that men said she was fair. And he sought for
her in the house of the women; and when he learned that she was fair indeed,
he desired that a husband be found for her, and he wedded her unto Pescheng,
who was a hero of the race of Jemshid. And there was born unto them a son
fair and strong, worthy the throne. And when he was yet but a tender babe
they brought him to Feridoun and cried

     O Lord of earth, let thy soul rejoice, behold this Irij!

Then the lips of Feridoun were wreathed with smiles, and he took up the infant
in his arms and cried unto God, saying

     O God, grant that my sight be restored unto me, that I may behold
     the face of this babe.

And as he prayed his eyes were opened, and his sight rested upon his son. Then
Feridoun gave thanks unto God. And he called down blessings upon the child,
and prayed that the day might be blessed also, and the heart of his enemies be
torn with anguish. And he named him Minuchihr, saying, A branch worthy of a
noble stock hath borne fruit. And the child was reared in the house of Feridoun,
and he suffered not that ill came near unto him, and though the years passed
above his head the stars brought him no evil. And when he was of a ripe age

Feridoun gave to Minuchihr a throne of gold, and a mace, and a crown of jew-
els, and the key to all his treasures. Then he commanded his nobles that they
should do him reverence and salute him king. And there were gathered about
the throne Karun, the son of Kawah, and Serv, King of Yemen, and Guerschasp
the victorious, and many other mighty princes more than tongue can name. But
the young Shah outshone them in strength and beauty, and joy was once more
in the land.

But tidings of the splendour that surrounded Feridoun pierced even unto the
lands of Roum and China, and the kings thereof were troubled and downcast
in their hearts. Then they conferred how they should regain the favour of the
Shah, for they feared Minuchihr when he should be come unto years of might.
So they sent a messenger unto Feridoun bearing rich gifts, and bade him speak
unto their father and say
     O Shah, live for ever I bear a message from the humblest of thy
     slaves, who are bowed unto the earth with contrition, wherefore
     they have not ventured into thy presence. And they pray that thou
     pardon their evil deed, for their hearts are good, and they did it
     not of themselves, but because it was written that they should do
     this wrong, and that which is written in the stars surely it is accom-
     plished. And therefore, O King, their eyes are filled with tears, and
     they pray thee incline unto them thine ear. And as a sign of thy
     grace send unto them Minuchihr thy son, for their hearts yearn to
     look upon his face and do him homage.
Now when Feridoun had listened to the words of his sons, he knitted his brows
in anger, for he knew that they sought only to beguile him. And he said unto
the messenger

     Go, say unto your masters that their false-hearted words shall avail
     them nothing. And ask them if they be not shamed to utter white
     words with tongues of blackness. I have heard their message, hear
     now the answer that I send. Ye say unto me that ye desire the love
     of Minuchihr, and I ask of you, What did ye for Irij? And now that
     ye are delivered of him ye seek the blood of his son. Verily I say unto
     you, never shall ye look upon his face save when he leadeth a mighty
     army. Then shall be watered with blood the leaves and fruits of the
     tree sprung from the vengeance that is due. For unto this day hath
     vengeance slumbered, since it became me not to stretch forth mine
     hand in battle upon my sons; but now is there sprung a branch from
     the tree which the enemy uprooted, and he shall come as a raging
     lion, girt with the vengeance of his sire. And I say unto you, take
     back the treasures ye have sent me, for think ye that for coloured
     toys I will abandon my vengeance, and efface for baubles the blood
     that ye have spilled, or sell for gold the head of mine offspring? And
     say yet again that while the father of Irij lives he will not abandon
16                                                 CHAPTER 2. FERIDOUN

     his intent. And now that thou hast listened unto my message, lay it
     up in thy heart and make haste from hence.
When the messenger had heard these words he departed with speed. And when
he was come unto Silim and Tur he told them thereof, and how he had seen
Minuchihr sitting upon a throne of gold, and how for strength he was like unto
Tahumers, who had bound the Deevs. And he told how heroes bearing names
that filled the world with wonder stood round about him, Kawah the smith, and
Karun his son, and Serv, the King of Yemen, and next in might unto the Shah
was Saum, the son of Neriman, the unvanquished in fight, and Guerschasp the
victorious, his treasurer. Then he spake of the treasures that filled the house
of Feridoun, and of the army great in number, so that the men of Roum and
China could not stand against them. And he told how their hearts were filled
with hatred of the Kings because of Irij.

The Kings, when they heard this and the message of their father, trembled
for fear. And Tur said unto Silim

     Henceforth we must forego pleasure, for it behoveth us to hasten,
     and not tarry till the teeth of this young lion be sharpened, and he
     be waxed tall and strong.
Then they made ready their armies, and the number of their men was past the
counting. Helmet was joined to helmet, and spear to spear, and jewels, baggage,
and elephants without number went with them, and you would have said it was
a host that none could understand. And they marched from Turan into Iran,
and the two Kings rode before them, their hearts filled with hate. But the star
of these evil ones was sinking. For Feridoun, when he learned that an army
had crossed the Jihun, called unto him Minuchihr his son, and bade him place
himself at the head of the warriors. And the host of the Shah was mighty to
behold, great and strong, and it covered the land like unto a cloud of locusts.
And they marched from Temmische unto the desert, and Minuchihr commanded
them with might. And on his right rode Karun the Avenger, and on his left
Saum, the son of Neriman, and above their heads waved the flag of Kawah, and
their armour glistened in the sun. Like as a lion breaketh forth from the jungle
to seize upon his prey, so did this army rush forth to avenge the death of Irij.
And the head of Minuchihr rose above the rest like to the moon or the sun when
it shineth above the mountains. And he exhorted them in words of fire that
they rest not, neither weary, until they should have broken the power of these
sons of Ahriman.

Now Tur and Silim, when they saw that the Iranians were come out against
them, set in order their army. And when the day had torn asunder the folds of
night, the two armies met in battle, and the fight waged strong until the setting
of the sun. And the earth was a sea of blood, and the feet of the elephants were
like to pillars of coral. And when the sun was sunk to his rest, Tur and Silim
consulted how they might seize upon Minuchihr by fraud, for they saw that his

arm was strong and his courage undaunted. So Tur set forth at the head of a
small band to surprise him in his tents. But Minuchihr was aware of his evil
plans, and sprang upon him. And when Tur would have fled Minuchihr followed
after him and struck a lance into his back. And when he had killed him he cut
his head from his trunk, and the body did he give unto the wild beasts, but the
head he sent to Feridoun. And he wrote to him and sent him greeting, and told
him all that was come about, and how he should neither rest nor tarry until the
death of Irij be avenged.

Now Silim, when he learned the fate of his brother, was sore afraid, and cast
about him for an ally. And there came unto him Kakoui, of the seed of Zohak.
But Minuchihr wrestled with him for a mornings space and overcame him also,
though the Deev was strong and powerful in fight. Then Silim was cast down
yet more, and he sought to hide him by the sea-shore. But Minuchihr cut off his
path and overtook him, and with his own hand he slew him, and cut his head
from his trunk. And he raised the head upon his lance. And when the army of
Silim saw this they fled into the hills, and vanished like cattle whom the snow
hath driven from their pasture. Then they took counsel and chose out a man
from among their midst, one that was prudent and gentle of speech. And they
bade him go before the Shah and say

     Have mercy upon us, O Shah, for neither hate nor vengeance drove
     us forth against thee, but only this, that we obeyed the wills of our
     lords. But we ourselves are peaceful men, tillers of the earth and
     keepers of cattle, and we pray thee that thou let us return in safety
     whence we are come. And we acknowledge thee our Shah, and we
     pray thee make thy servants acquainted with thy desires.

When Minuchihr had heard these words he spake and said

     My desire is not after these men, neither is my longing after blood
     but mercy. Let every man lay down his arms and go his ways, and
     let peace be in the land, and joy wait upon your feet.

When the men heard this they praised the Shah, and called down blessings
upon his head. And they came before him, every man bearing his armour and
the weapons of battle. And they laid them at his feet, and of weapons there
was reared a mighty mountain, and the blue steel glistened in the sun. Then
Minuchihr dismissed them graciously. And when the army was dispersed he sent
a messenger unto Feridoun bearing the head of Silim and a writing. And when
he had ordered all things he set out at the head of his warriors unto the city
of Feridoun. And his grandsire came forth to meet him, and there came with
him many elephants swathed in gold, and warriors arrayed in rich attire, and a
large multitude clad in garments of bright hue. And flags waved above them,
and trumpets brayed, and cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing filled the
air. But when Minuchihr saw that his grandsire came towards him, he got from
his horse and ran to meet him, and fell at his feet and craved his blessing. And
18                                                 CHAPTER 2. FERIDOUN

Feridoun blessed Minuchihr and raised him from the dust. And he bade him sit
again upon his horse and took his hand, and they entered the city in triumph.
And when they were come to the Kings house, Feridoun seated Minuchihr upon
a throne of gold. Then he called unto him Saum, the son of Neriman, and said
     I pray thee bring up this youth and nourish him for the kingdom,
     and aid him with thy might and mind.
And he took the hand of Minuchihr and put it into that of Saum, and said
     Thanks be unto God the merciful, who hath listened unto my voice,
     and granted the desires of His servant. For now shall I go hence, and
     the world will I cumber no more.
Then when he had given gifts unto his servants he withdrew into solitude, and
gazed without cease upon the heads of his sons, neither refrained he from be-
wailing their evil fate, and the sorrow they had brought upon him. And daily
he grew fainter, and at last the light of his life expired, and Feridoun vanished
from the earth, but his name remained behind him. And Minuchihr mourned
for his grandsire with weeping and lamentation, and raised above him a stately
tomb. But when the seven days of mourning were ended, he put upon his head
the crown of the Kaianides, and girt his loins with a red sash of might. And the
nation called him Shah, and he was beloved in the land.
Chapter 3


S        EISTAN, which is to the south of Iran, was ruled by Saum, the Pehliva,
girt with might and glory, and, but for the grief that he was childless, his days
were happy. Then it came to pass that a son was born unto him, beautiful of
face and limb, who had neither fault nor blemish save that his hair was like unto
that of an aged man. Now the women were afraid to tell Saum, lest he be wroth
when he should learn that his child was thus set apart from his fellow-men. So
the infant had gazed upon the light eight days ere he knew thereof. Then a
woman, brave above the rest, ventured into his presence. She bowed herself
unto the dust and craved of Saum the boon of speech. And he suffered her, and
she spake, saying
     May the Lord keep and guard thee. May thine enemies be utterly de-
     stroyed. May the days of Saum the hero be happy. For the Almighty
     hath accomplished his desire. He hath given to him an heir, a son
     is born unto the mighty warrior behind the curtains of his house, a
     moon-faced boy, beautiful of face and limb, in whom there is neither
     fault nor blemish, save that his hair is like unto that of an aged man.
     I beseech thee, O my master, bethink thee that this gift is from God,
     nor give place in thine heart to ingratitude.
When Saum had listened to her words he arose and went unto the house of
the women. And he beheld the babe that was beautiful of face and limb, but
whose head was like unto that of an aged man. Then Saum, fearing the jeers of
his enemies, quitted the paths of wisdom. He lifted his head unto heaven and
murmured against the Lord of Destiny, and cried, saying
     O thou eternally just and good, O source of happiness, incline thine
     ear unto me and listen to my voice. If I have sinned, if I have strayed
     in the paths of Ahriman, behold my repentance and pardon me. My
     soul is ashamed, my heart is angered for reason of this child, for will

20                                                          CHAPTER 3. ZAL

     not the nobles say this boy presageth evil? They will hold me up to
     shame, and what can I reply to their questions? It behoveth me to
     remove this stain, that the land of Iran be not accursed.

Thus spake Saum in his anger, railing against fate, and he commanded his ser-
vants to take the child and cast it forth out of the land.

Now there standeth far from the haunts of men the Mount Alberz, whose head
toucheth the stars, and never had mortal foot been planted upon its crest. And
upon it had the Simurgh, the bird of marvel, builded her nest. Of ebony and
of sandal-wood did she build it, and twined it with aloes, so that it was like
unto a kings house, and the evil sway of Saturn could not reach thereto. And
at the foot of this mount was laid the child of Saum. Then the Simurgh, when
she spied the infant lying upon the ground, bereft of clothes and wherewithal
to nourish it, sucking its fingers for very hunger, darted to earth and raised him
in her talons. And she bare him unto her nest, that her young might devour
him. But when she had brought him her heart was stirred within her for com-
passion. Therefore she bade her young ones spare the babe and treat him like
to a brother. Then she chose out tender flesh to feed her guest, and tended the
infant forsaken of his sire. And thus did the Simurgh, nor ever wearied till that
moons and years had rolled above their heads, and the babe was grown to be
a youth full of strength and beauty. And his renown filled the land, for neither
good nor evil can be hidden for ever. And his fame spread even unto the ears
of Saum, the son of Neriman.

Then it came to pass that Saum dreamed a dream, wherein he beheld a man
riding towards him mounted upon an Arab steed. And the man gave him tidings
of his son, and taunted him, saying

     O thou who hast offended against every duty, who disownest thy
     son because that his hair is white, though thine own resembleth
     the silver poplar, and to whom a bird seemeth fit nurse for thine
     offspring, wilt thou abjure all kinship with him for ever?

Now when Saum awoke he remembered his dream, and fear came upon him for
his sin. And he called unto him his Mubids, and questioned them concerning
the stripling of the Mount Alberz, and whether this could be indeed his son, for
surely frosts and heat must long since have destroyed him. Then the Mubids
answered and said

     Not so, thou most ungrateful unto God, thou more cruel than the
     lion, the tiger, and the crocodile, for even savage beasts tend their
     young, whilst thou didst reject thine own, because thou heldest the
     white hair given unto him by his Creator for a reproach in the sight
     of men. O faint of heart, arise and seek thy child, for surely one
     whom God hath blessed can never perish. And turn thou unto him
     and pray that he forgive thee.

When Saum had heard these words he was contrite, and called about him his
army and set forth unto the mountains. And when they were come unto the
mount that is raised up to the Pleiades, Saum beheld the Simurgh and the nest,
and a stripling that was like unto himself walking around it. And his desire to
get unto him was great, but he strove in vain to scale the crest. Then Saum
called upon God in his humility. And God heard him, and put it into the heart
of the Simurgh to look down and behold the warrior and the army that was with
him. And when she had seen Saum she knew wherefore the chief was come, and
she spake and said

     O thou who hast shared this nest, I have reared thee and been to
     thee a mother, for thy father cast thee out; the hour is come to part
     us, and I must give thee again unto thy people. For thy father is
     Saum the hero, the Pehliva of the world, greatest among the great,
     and he is come hither to seek his son, and splendour awaiteth thee
     beside him.

When the youth had heard her words his eyes were filled with tears and his
heart with sorrow, for he had never gazed upon men, though he had learned
their speech. And he said

     Art thou then weary of me, or am I no longer fit to be thy house-
     fellow? See, thy nest is unto me a throne, thy sheltering wings a
     parent. To thee I owe all that I am, for thou wast my friend in need.

And the Simurgh answered him saying, I do not send thee away for enmity, O
my son; nay, I would keep thee beside me for ever, but another destiny is better
for thee. When thou shalt have seen the throne and its pomp my nest will sink
in thine esteem. Go forth, therefore, my son, and try thy fortune in the world.
But that thou mayst remember thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee
amid her little ones, that thou mayst remain under the shadow of her wings,
bear with thee this feather from her breast. And in the day of thy need cast it
into the fire, and I will come like unto a cloud and deliver thee from danger.

Thus she spake, and raised him in her talons and bore him to the spot where
Saum was bowed to the dust in penitence. Now when Saum beheld his son,
whose body was like unto an elephants for strength and beauty, he bent low
before the Simurgh and covered her with benison. And he cried out and said

     O Shah of birds, O bird of God, who confoundest the wicked, mayst
     thou be great for ever.

But while he yet spake the Simurgh flew upwards, and the gaze of Saum was
fixed upon his son. And as he looked he saw that he was worthy of the throne,
and that there was neither fault nor blemish in him, save only his silvery locks.
Then his heart rejoiced within him, and he blessed him, and entreated his
forgiveness. And he said
22                                                          CHAPTER 3. ZAL

     O my son, open thine heart unto the meanest of Gods servants, and
     I swear unto thee, in the presence of Him that made us, that never
     again will I harden my heart towards thee, and that I will grant unto
     thee all thy desires.

Then he clothed him in rich robes and named him Zal, which being interpreted
meaneth the aged. And he showed him unto the army. And when they had
looked on the youth they saw that he was goodly of visage and of limb, and they
shouted for very joy. Then the host made them ready to return unto Seistan.
And the kettle-drummers rode at their head, mounted upon mighty elephants
whose feet raised a cloud of dust that rose unto the sky. And the tabors were
beat, and the trumpets brayed, and the cymbals clashed, and sounds of rejoicing
filled the land because that Saum had found his son, and that Zal was a hero
among men.

Now the news spread even unto Minuchihr that Saum was returning from the
mountains with great pomp and joy. And when he had heard it he bade Nuder
go forth to meet the Pehliva and bid him bring Zal unto the court. And when
Saum heard the desires of his master he obeyed and came within his gates.
Then he beheld the Shah seated upon the throne of the Kaianides, bearing his
crown upon his head, and on his right hand sat Karun the Pehliva, and he bade
Saum be seated on his left. And the Shah commanded Saum that he should
speak. Then Saum unbosomed himself before the Shah and spake concerning
his son, neither did he hide his evil deed. And Minuchihr commanded that Zal
be brought before him. So the chamberlains brought him into the presence of
the King, and he was clad in robes of splendour, and the King was amazed at
his aspect. And he turned and said unto Saum

O Pehliva of the world, the Shah enjoineth you have a care of this noble youth,
and guard him for the land of Iran. And teach him forthwith the arts of war,
and the pleasures and customs of the banquet, for how should one that hath
been reared in a nest be familiar with our ways?

Then the Shah bade the Mubids cast Zals horoscope, and they read that he
would be a brave and prudent knight. Now when he had heard this the Pehliva
was relieved of all his fears, and the Shah rejoiced and covered Saum with gifts.
Arab horses did he give unto him with golden saddles, Indian swords in scab-
bards of gold, brocades of Roum, skins of beasts, and carpets of Ind, and the
rubies and pearls were past the numbering. And slaves poured musk and amber
before him. And Minuchihr also granted to Saum a throne, and a crown and
a girdle of gold, and he named him ruler of all the lands that stretch from the
Sea of China to that of Sind, from Zaboulistan to the Caspian. Then he bade
that the Pehlivas horse be led forth, and sent him away from his presence. And
Saum called down blessings upon the Shah, and turned his face towards home.
And his train followed after him, and the sound of music went before them.

Then when the tidings came to Seistan that the great hero was drawing nigh,
the city decked itself in festive garbs, and every man called down the blessings
of Heaven upon Zal, the son of Saum, and poured gifts at his feet. And there
was joy in all the land for that Saum had taken back his son.

Now Saum forthwith called about him his Mubids, and bade them instruct
the youth in all the virtues of a king.

And daily Zal increased in wisdom and strength, and his fame filled the land.
And when Saum went forth to fight the battles of the Shah, he left the kingdom
under his hands, and Zal administered it with judgment and virtue.
Chapter 4


A         NON it came about that Zal desired to see the kingdom. And he set
forth, and there followed after him a goodly train, and when they had journeyed
a while they marched with pomp into Cabul. Now Mihrab, who was descended
from Zohak the Serpent, reigned in Cabul, yet he was worthy, prudent, and
wise. When he heard that the son of Saum, to whom he paid tribute, drew
nigh unto the city, he went out to meet him, and his nobles went with him, and
slaves bearing costly gifts. And Zal, hearing that Mihrab was at hand, prepared
a feast in his tents, and Mihrab and his train feasted with him until the night
was far spent. Now, after the King was gone, Zal praised his beauty. Then a
noble rose up and said unto him

     O Zal, thou knowest not beauty since thou hast not beheld the
     daughter of this man. For she is like unto the slender cypress, her
     face is brighter than the sun, her mouth is a pomegranate flower.

When Zal heard these words he was filled with longing, and sleep would not
visit his eyelids for thinking of her beauty.

Now, when the day dawned, he opened the doors of his court, and the no-
bles stood about him, each man according to his rank. And presently there
came from Cabul Mihrab the King to tender morning greeting to the stranger
without his gates. And Zal desired that Mihrab should crave a boon at his
hands. Then spake Mihrab unto him saying

     O ruler mighty and great, I have but one desire, and to bring it to
     pass is easy. For I crave thee that thou dwell as guest beneath my
     roof, and let my heart rejoice in thy presence.

Then Zal said unto him, O King, ask not this boon at my hands, I pray thee,
for it can in nowise be accomplished. The Shah and Saum would be angered

26                                        CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

should they learn that I had eaten under the roof of Zohak. I beg of thee ask
aught but this.

When Mihrab heard these words he was sorrowful, and bent low before Zal,
and departed from out the tents. And the eye of Zal looked after him, and yet
again he spake his praises. Then he bethought him of the Kings daughter, and
how that she was fair, and he was sunk in brooding and desire, and the days
passed unheeded over his head.

Now it came to pass that on a certain morning Mihrab stepped forth from
his palace to the house of the women to visit Sindokht his wife, and her daugh-
ter Rudabeh. Truly the house was like to a garden for colour and perfume, and
over all shone those moons of beauty. Now when Mihrab had greeted Rudabeh
he marvelled at her loveliness, and called down the blessings of Heaven upon
her head. Then Sindokht opened her lips and questioned Mihrab concerning
the stranger whose tents were without their gates. And she said
      I pray thee tell unto me what manner of man is this white-haired
      son of Saum, and is he worthy the nest or the throne?
Then Mihrab said unto her, O my fair cypress, the son of Saum is a hero among
men. His heart is like unto a lions, his strength is as an elephants, to his friends
he is a gracious Nile, unto his enemies a wasting crocodile. And in him are even
blemishes turned to beauties, his white locks but enhance his glory.

When Rudabeh had listened to these words her heart burned with love for Zal,
so that she could neither eat nor rest, and was like unto one that hath changed
her shape. And after a while, because that she could bear the burden thereof
no longer, she told her secret to the slaves that loved and served her. And she
charged them tell no man, and entreated of them that they would aid her to
allay the troubles of her heart. And when the slaves had listened to her story,
they were filled with fear, and with one accord entreated her that she would
dismiss from her heart one branded among men, and whom his own father had
cast out. But Rudabeh would not listen to their voice. And when they beheld
that she was firm in her spirit, and that their words were vain, they cast about
how they might serve her. And one among them who was wise above the rest
opened her lips and spake
      O moon-faced beauty, slender cypress, it shall be done at thy desire.
      Thy slaves will neither rest nor slumber until the royal youth shall
      have become the footstool to thy feet.
Then Rudabeh was glad and said
      An the issue be happy, there shall be planted for thee a noble tree,
      and it shall bear riches and jewels, and wisdom shall cull its fruits.
Then the slaves pondered in their hearts how they should compass their end,
for they knew that only by craft could it be brought about. Straightway they

clothed themselves in costly raiment, and went forth blithely into the garden
of flowers that was spread beside the rivers bank without the city. And they
gathered roses, and decked their hair with blossoms, and threw them into the
stream for sooth-telling; and as they gathered they came unto the spot over
against which were pitched the tents of Zal. Now Zal beheld them from his
tent, and he questioned them concerning these rose-gatherers. And one uprose
and said unto him

     They are slaves sent forth by the moon of Cabul into the garden of

Now when Zal heard this his heart leaped for joy, and he set forth unto the
rivers bank with only one page to bear him company. And seeing a water-bird
fly upwards, he took his bow and shot it through the heart, and it fell among
the rose-gatherers. Then Zal bade the boy cross the water and bring him the
bird. And when he had landed, the moon-faced women pressed about him and
questioned him, saying

     O youth, tell us the name of him who aimeth thus surely, for verily
     he is a king among men.

Then the boy answering said, What! know ye not the son of Saum the hero?
The world hath not his equal for strength and beauty.

But the girls reproved him, and said, Not so, boast not thus vainly, for the
house of Mihrab holdeth a sun that oershines all besides.

And the page smiled, and the smile yet lingered on his lips when he came
back to Zal. And Zal said

     Why smilest thou, boy? What have they spoken unto thee that thou
     openest thy lips and showest thy ivory teeth?

Then the boy told unto him the speech of the women. And Zal said

     Go over yet again and bid them tarry, that they may bear back
     jewels with their roses.

And he chose forth from among his treasures trinkets of pearl and gold, and
sent them to the slaves. Then the one who had sworn to serve Rudabeh above
the rest craved that she might look upon the face of the hero, for she said

     A secret that is known to three is one no longer.

And Zal granted her desire, and she told him of Rudabeh and of her beauty,
and his passion burned the more. And he spake

     Show unto me, I pray thee, the path by which I may behold this fair
     one, for my heart is filled with longing.
28                                         CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

Then the slave said, Suffer that we go back to the house of the women, and we
will fill the ears of Rudabeh with praises of the son of Saum, and will entan-
gle her in the meshes of our net, and the lion shall rejoice in his chase of the lamb.

Then Zal bade her go forth, and the women returned to the house rejoicing
and saying

      The lion entereth the snare spread forth to entrap him, and the
      wishes of Rudabeh and Zal will be accomplished.

But when they were come to the gates the porter chid them that they were gone
without while the stranger sojourned in Cabul, and they were troubled and sore
afraid for their secret. But they stilled his wrath and came unto where Rudabeh
awaited them. And they told her of Zal, the son of Saum, and of his beauty
and his prowess. And Rudabeh smiled and said

      Wherefore have ye thus changed your note? For a while back ye
      spake with scorn of this bird-reared youth, on whose head hang the
      locks of a sage, but now are ye loud in his praises.

Then Rudabeh began privily to deck her house that it might be worthy a guest.
With brocades of Roum and carpets of Ind did she hang it, and she perfumed it
with musk and ambergris, and flowers did she cause to bloom about the rooms.
And when the sun was sunk, and the doors of the house were locked and the
keys withdrawn, a slave went forth unto Zal, the son of Saum. And she spake
unto him in a low voice

      Come now, for all is ready.

And Zal followed after her. And when they were come to the house of the
women Zal beheld the daughter of the King standing upon the roof, and her
beauty was like unto a cypress on which the full moon shineth. And when she
beheld him, she spake and said

      I bid thee welcome, O young man, son of a hero, and may the blessing
      of Heaven rest upon thee.

And Zal answered her benison, and prayed that he might enter into nearer
converse, for he was on the ground and she was on the roof. Then the Peri-faced
loosened her tresses, and they were long, so that they fell from the battlements
unto the ground. And she said unto Zal

      Here hast thou a cord without flaw. Mount, O Pehliva, and seize
      my black locks, for it is fitting that I should be a snare unto thee.

But Zal cried, Not so, O fair one, it would beseem me ill to do thee hurt.

And he covered her hair with kisses. Then he called for a cord and made a
running knot, and threw it upwards and fastened it to the battlements. And

with a bound he swung himself upon the roof. Then Rudabeh took his hand
and they stepped down together into the golden chambers, and the slaves stood
round about them. And they gazed upon each other and knew that they ex-
celled in beauty, and the hours slipped by in sweet talk, while love was fanned
in their hearts. Then Zal cried
     O fair cypress, musk-perfumed, when Minuchihr shall learn of this
     he will be angered and Saum also will chide. And they will say I
     have forgotten my God, and will lift their hands against me. But I
     swear unto thee that this life is to me vile if it be not spent in thy
     presence. And I call upon Heaven to hear me that none other but
     thee will I call my bride.
And Rudabeh said, I too will swear unto thee this oath.

So the hours sped, and there arose from out the tents of the King the sound of
drums that announce the coming of the day. Then cried Zal and Rudabeh of
one accord
     O glory of the world, tarry yet a while, neither arrive so quickly.
But the sun gave no ear to their reproaches, and the hour to part was come.
Then Zal swung himself from the battlements unto the ground, and quitted the
house of his beloved.

Now when the earth was flooded with light, and the nobles and chiefs had
tendered unto Zal their morning greetings as was their wont, he called about
him his Mubids, and laid before them how that he was filled with love for a
daughter of the Serpent. And the Mubids when they heard it were troubled,
and their lips were closed, and the words were chained upon their tongues. For
there was none of them that listed to mingle poison in the honey of this love.
Whereupon Zal reproved them, and said that he would bestow on them rich
gifts if they would open their mouths. Then they spake and said unto him that
the honour of a king could not suffer by a woman, and though Mihrab be indeed
of Zohaks race, he was noble and valiant. And they urged him to write unto his
father and crave Saum to wait upon the Shah.

Then Zal called unto him a scribe and bade him write down the words that
he spake. And he told unto Saum his love and his fears. And he recalled unto
him how that he had cast him out, and how that he had lived in a nest, and a
bird had reared him, and the sun had poured down upon his head, and raw flesh
had been his nourishment the while his father had sat within a goodly house
clothed in silk. And he recalled the promise given to him by Saum. Neither
did he seek to justify that which was come about. Then he gave the letter to a
messenger, and bade him ride until he should be come into the presence of Saum.

When Saum had heard the words of his son his spirit was troubled, and he
30                                       CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

     Woe unto me, for now is clear what hath so long been hidden. One
     whom a wild bird hath reared looketh for the fulfilment of wild
     desires, and seeks union with an accursed race.
And he pondered long what he should answer. For he said, If I say, Abandon
this desire, sow no discord, return to reason, I break my oath and God will
punish me. Yet if I say, Thy desire is just, satisfy the passions of thy heart,
what offspring can come to pass from the union of a Deev and the nursling of a

And the heart of Saum was heavy with care. So he called unto him his Mubids
that they should search the stars, for he said
     If I mingle fire and water I do ill, and ill will come of it.
Then all that day the Wise Men searched the secrets of Fate, and they cast the
horoscope of Zal and Rudabeh, and at even they returned to the King rejoicing.
And they found him torn with anguish. Then they said
     Hail unto thee, O Saum, for we have followed the movement of the
     stars and counted their course, and we have read the message of the
     skies. And it is written, A clear spring shall issue into the day, a son
     shall be born to Zal, a hero full of power and glory, and there shall
     not be his like in Iran.
Now when Saum had drunk in these words, his soul was uplifted, and he poured
gifts upon the Mubids. Then he called to him the messenger of Zal, and he gave
him pieces of silver, and bade him return unto his master and say
     I hold thy passion folly, O my son, but because of the oath that I
     have sworn to thee it shall be done at thy desire. I will hie me unto
     Iran and lay thy suit before the Shah.
Then Saum called together his army and set forth for Iran, and the sound of
trumpets and cymbals went before him.

Now when the messenger was come back to Zal, he rejoiced and praised God,
and gave gold and silver to the poor, and gifts unto his servants. But when
night was come he could not close his eyes in slumber, nor could he rest during
the day. Neither did he drink wine nor demand the singers, for his soul was
filled with longing after his love. And presently there came out to him a slave,
and he gave unto her Saums letter that she might bear it to Rudabeh. And
Rudabeh rejoiced also, and chose from among her treasures a costly crown and
a ring of worth, and bade the woman bear them unto Zal. Now as she quitted
the chamber she met Sindokht. And the Queen questioned her and said
     Whence comest thou? Reply to all my questions, neither seek thou
     to deceive me, for already a long time do I suspect thy passing to
     and fro.

And the woman trembled as she heard these words, and fell down and kissed
the feet of the Queen, and said
     Have pity on thine handmaiden, who is poor and gaineth her bread
     as she can. I go into the houses of the rich and sell to them robes
     and jewels. And Rudabeh hath this day bought of me a tiara and a
     bracelet of gold.
Then said Sindokht, Show unto me the money thou hast received for the same,
that my anger be appeased.

And the woman answered and said, Demand not that I show unto thee that
which I have not, for Rudabeh will pay me to-morrow.

Now Sindokht knew that these words were feigned, and she searched the sleeve
of the woman, and lo! she found therein the tiara that Rudabeh had broidered
with her hands. Then she was angered, and commanded that the slave should
be bound in chains. And she desired that her daughter be brought into her
presence. And when she was come, Sindokht opened her mouth and spake,
     O moon of noble race, to whom hath been taught naught but that
     which is good, how hast thou gone astray upon the paths of evil?
     O my daughter, confide unto thy mother thy secrets. From whom
     cometh this woman? For what man are destined thy gifts?
When she had heard, Rudabeh was abashed, but after a while she told all unto
Sindokht. Now when the Queen had heard she was confounded, for she feared
the wrath of the Shah, and that he would raze Cabul to the dust for this mis-
chance. And she went into her rooms and wept in her sorrow. Then presently
Mihrab the King came in to Sindokht, and he was of joyful mind, for Zal had
received him graciously. But when he beheld her tears he questioned of her
grief. Then she told him how that his daughter was filled with love for Zal, the
son of Saum. And when Mihrab had heard her to an end, his heart also was
troubled, for he knew that Cabul could not stand before the Shah.

Minuchihr, too, when he had heard these things, was troubled, for he beheld in
them the device of Ahriman, and feared lest this union should bring evil upon
Iran. And he bade Nauder call Saum before him. Now when Saum heard the
desire of the Shah, he spake and said
     I obey, and the sight of the King will be a banquet. unto my soul.

Then Saum went into the presence of Minuchihr, and he kissed the ground, and
called down blessings upon the head of the Shah. But Minuchihr raised him and
seated him beside him on the throne, and straightway began to question him
concerning the war, and the Deevs of Mazinderan. Then Saum told him all the
story of his battles. And Minuchihr listened with joy though the tale was long,
32                                       CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

and when Saum had ended he praised his prowess. And he lifted his crown unto
heaven and rejoiced that his enemies were thus confounded. Then be bade a
banquet be spread, and all night long the heroes feasted and shortened the hours
with wine. But when the first rays of morn had shed their light, the curtains
of the Shahs house were opened, that he might hold audience and grant the
petitions of his people. And Saum the Pehliva came the first to stand before
the King, for he desired to speak to him of Zal. But the Shah of the world would
not suffer him to open his lips, but said unto him

     Go hence, O Saum, and take with thee thine army, for I command
     thee to go yet again to battle. Set forth unto Cabul and burn the
     house of Mihrab the King, and utterly destroy his race and all who
     serve him, nor suffer that any of the seed of Zohak escape destruc-
     tion, for I will that the earth be delivered of this serpent brood.

When Saum heard these words he knew that the Shah was angered, and that
speech would avail him naught. So he kissed the throne and touched the earth
with his forehead, and said, Lord, I am thy servant, and I obey thy desires.
And he departed, and the earth trembled under the stamping of footmen and
of hoofs, and the air of the city was darkened with his spears.

Now the news of Saums intent reached even unto Cabul, and the land was
sunk in woe, and weeping filled the house of the King. But Zal was wroth, and
he went forth to meet his father. And when he was come to the spot where he
had encamped his army, he craved an audience. And Saum granted it, and Zal
reminded him yet again of his oath, and desired that he would spare the land
of Cabul, nor visit his judgments upon the innocent. When Saum had listened,
his heart was moved, and he said

     O my son, thou speakest that which is right. To thee have I been
     unjust from the day of thy birth. But stay thy wrath, for surely I will
     find a remedy, and thy wishes shall yet be accomplished. For thou
     shalt bear a letter unto the Shah, and when he shall have looked
     on thy face, he will be moved with compassion and cease to trouble

Then Zal kissed the ground before his father and craved the blessings of God
upon his head. And Saum dictated a letter to the Shah, and he spoke therein of
all he had done for Minuchihr, and how he had killed the dragon that had laid
waste the land, how he had ever subdued the foes of Iran, and how the frontiers
were enlarged by his hands. Yet now was he waxing old, and could no longer do
doughty deeds. But a brave son was his, worthy and true, who would follow in
his footsteps. Only his heart was devoured of love, and perchance he would die
if his longing were unsatisfied. And therewith he commended to the wisdom of
the Shah the affairs of Zal.

When the letter was ended Zal set forth with it unto the court, and the flower

of his army went with him.

But the fear of Minuchihr was great in Cabul, and Mihrab pondered how he
should quench the wrath of the King of kings. And he spake to Sindokht and
     For that the King is angered against me because of thee and thy
     daughter, and because I cannot stand before him, I will lead Rud-
     abeh unto his court and kill her before his eyes. Perchance his anger
     may be thus allayed.
Sindokht listened to his words in silence, and when he had ended she cast about
her for a plan, for she was quick of wit. And when she had found one she came
again into the presence of Mihrab, and she craved of him that he should give
her the key of his treasury. For she said
     This is not the hour to be strait-handed; suffer that I take what
     seemeth good unto me and go before Saum, it may be that I move
     him to spare the land.
And Mihrab agreed to her demand because of the fear that devoured him. Then
Sindokht went out to the house of Saum, and she took with her three hundred
thousand pieces of gold, and sixty horses caparisoned in silver, bearing sixty
slaves that held cups filled to the brim with musk and camphor, and rubies, and
turquoise, and precious stones of every kind. And there followed two hundred
dromedaries and four tall Indian elephants laden with carpets and brocades
of Roum, and the train reached for two miles beyond the Kings gates. Now
when Sindokht was come to Seistan she bade the guardians of the door say
unto Saum that an envoy was come from Cabul bearing a message. And Saum
granted an audience, and Sindokht was brought into his presence. Then she
kissed the ground at his feet and called upon Heaven to shower down blessings
on his head. And when she had done so, she caused her gifts to be laid before
Saum, and when Saum beheld these treasures, he marvelled and thought within
himself, How cometh it that a woman is sent as envoy from a land that boasteth
such riches? If I accept them the Shah will be angered, and if I refuse perchance
Zal will reproach me that I rob him of his heritage. So he lifted his head and
     Let these treasures be given unto the treasurer of my son.
When Sindokht beheld that her gifts were accepted, she rejoiced and raised her
voice in speech. And she questioned Saum, saying
     Tell me, I pray thee, what wrong have the people of Cabul done unto
     thee that thou wouldst destroy them?
Then answered Saum the hero, Reply unto my questions and lie not. Art thou
the slave or the wife of Mihrab, and is it thy daughter whom Zal hath seen? If
indeed it be so, tell me, I pray, of her beauty, that I may know if she be worthy
34                                      CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

of my son.

Then Sindokht said, O Pehliva, swear to me first a great oath that thou wilt
spare my life and the lives of those dear unto me. And when I am assured of
thy protection I will recount all that thou desirest.

Then Saum took the hand of Sindokht, and he sware unto her a great oath,
and gave her his word and his promise. And when she had heard it she was no
longer afraid, and she told him all her secrets. And she said
     I am of the race of Zohak, and wife unto the valiant Mihrab, and
     mother of Rudabeh, who hath found favour in the eyes of thy son.
     And I am come to learn of thy desire, and who are thine enemies in
     Cabul. Destroy the wicked, and those who merit chastisement, but
     spare, I pray thee, the innocent, or thy deeds will change day into
Then spake Saum, My oath is sacred, and if it cost my life, thou and thine and
Cabul may rest assured that I will not harm them. And I desire that Zal should
find a wife in Rudabeh, though she be of an alien race.

And he told her how that he had written to the Shah a letter of supplication
such as only one in grief could pen, and how Zal was absent with the message,
and he craved her to tell him of Rudabeh.

But Sindokht replied, If the Pehliva of the world will make the hearts of his
slaves rejoice, he will visit us and look with his own eyes upon our moon.

And Saum smiled and said, Rest content and deliver thine heart of cares, for
all shall end according unto thy desires.

When Sindokht heard this she bade him farewell and made all haste to return.
And Saum loaded her with gifts and bade her depart in peace. And Sindokhts
face shone brightly, like unto the moon when she hath been eclipsed, and hope
once more reigned in her breast.

Now listen to what happened to Zal while these things were passing in Seistan.
When he was come to the court of Minuchihr he hastened into his presence, and
kissed the ground at his feet, and lay prostrate before him in the dust. And
when the Shah saw this he was moved, and bade his servants raise Zal, and pour
musk before him. Then Zal drew nigh unto the throne and gave to the King
the letter written by Saum the son of Neriman. And when Minuchihr had read
it he was grieved, and said
     This letter, written by Saum thy father in his sorrow, hath awakened
     an old pain within me. But for the sake of my faithful servant I will
     do unto thee that which is thy desire. Yet I ask that thou abide with
     me a little while that I may seek counsel about thee.

Then the cooks brought forth a table of gold, and Zal was seated beside the Shah
and all the nobles according to their rank, and they ate flesh and drank wine
together. Then when the mantle of night was fallen over the earth Zal sprang
upon his steed and scoured the land in the unrest of his spirit, for his heart
was full of thoughts and his mouth of words. But when morning was come he
presented himself before the Shah in audience. And his speech and mien found
favour in the eyes of the Shah, and he called unto him his Wise Men and bade
them question the stars of this matter. Three days and three nights did the
Mubids search the heavens without ceasing, and on the fourth they came before
the Shah and spake. And they said unto him

     Hail to thee, hero of the golden girdle, for we bring unto thee glad
     tidings. The son of Saum and the daughter of Mihrab shall be a
     glorious pair, and from their union shall spring a son like to a war-
     elephant, and he shall subdue all men by his sword and raise the
     glory of Iran even unto the skies. And he shall uproot the wicked
     from the earth so that there shall be no room for them. Segsars
     and Mazinderan shall feel the weight of his mace, and he shall bring
     much woe upon Turan, but Iran shall be loaded with prosperity at
     his hands. And he will give back sleep to the unhappy, and close the
     doors of discord, and bar the paths of wrong-doing. The kingdom
     will rejoice while he lives; Roum, Ind, and Iran will grave his name
     upon their seals.

When the Shah had heard this he charged the Mubids that they keep secret
that which they had revealed unto him. And he called for Zal that he might
question him and test his wisdom. And the Wise Men and the Mubids were
seated in a circle, and they put these questions to the son of Saum.

And the first opened his mouth and said

     Twelve trees, well grown and green,
     Fair and lofty, have I seen;
     Each has sprung with vigorous sprout,
     Sending thirty branches out;
     Wax no more, nor wane, they can
     In the kingdom of Iran.

And Zal pondered a while and then answered and said

     Twelve moons in the year, and each I praise
     As a new-made king on a new thrones blaze:
     Each comes to an end in thirty days.

Then the second Mubid questioned him and said

     Thou whose head is high in air,
     Rede me now of coursers twain;
36                                     CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

     Both are noble, swift to speed;
     Black as storms in the night one steed,
     The other crystal, white and fair,
     They race for ever and haste in vain,
     Towards a goal they never gain.

And Zal thought again yet a while and answered

     Two shining horses, one black, one white.
     That run for ever in rapid flight;
     The one is the day, the other the night,
     That count the throbs of the heavens height,
     Like the hunted prey from the following chase
     They flee, yet neither wins the race.

Then the third Mubid questioned him and said

     Thirty knights before the king
     Pass along. Regard the thing
     Closely; one is gone. Again
     Lookthe thirty are in train.

And Zal answered and spake

     Thirty knights of whom the train
     Is full, then fails, then fills again,
     Know, each moon is reckoned thus,
     So willed by God who governs us,
     And thy word is true of the faint moons wane,
     Now failing in darkness, now shining plain.

Then the fourth Mubid questioned him and said

     See a green garden full of springs;
     A strong man with a sickle keen
     Enters, and reaps both dry and green;
     No word thine utmost anguish wrings.

And Zal bethought him and replied

     Thy word was of a garden green,
     A reaper with a sickle keen,
     Who cuts alike the fresh and the dry
     Nor heedeth prayer nor any cry:
     Time is the reaper, we the grass;
     Pity nor fear his spirit has,
     But old and young he reaps alike.
     No rank can stay his sickles strike,
     No love, but he will leave it lorn,

     For to this end all men are born.
     Birth opes to all the gate of Life,
     Death shuts it down on love and strife,
     And Fate, that counts the breath of man,
     Measures to each a reckoned span.

Then the fifth Mubid questioned him and said
     Look how two lofty cypresses
     Spring up, like reeds, from stormy seas,
     There builds a bird his dwelling-place;
     Upon the one all night he stays,
     But swift, with the dawn, across he flies;
     The abandoned tree dries up and dies,
     While that whereon he sets his feet
     Breathes odours out, surpassing sweet.
     The one is dead for ever and aye,
     The other lives and blooms alway.

Then Zal yet again bethought him before he said
     Hear of the sea-born cypresses,
     Where builds a bird, and rests, and flees.
     From the Ram to the Scales the earth oerpowers,
     Shadows obscure of the night that lowers,
     But when the Scales sign it must quit,
     Darkness and gloom oermaster it;
     The sides of heaven thy fable shows
     Whence grief to man or blessing flows,
     The sun like a bird flies to and fro,
     Weal with him bringing, but leaving woe.
Then the sixth Mubid questioned him, and it was the last question that he
asked, and he deemed it the hardest of all to answer. And all men hung upon
his words and listened to the answer of Zal. And the Mubid said
     Builded on a rock I found
     A town. Men left the gate and chose
     A thicket on the level ground.
     Soon their soaring mansions rose
     Lifting roofs that reach the moon,
     Some men slaves, some kings, became,
     Of their earlier city soon
     The memory died in all. Its name
     None breathed. But hark! an earthquake down,
     Lost in the chasm lies the land-
     Now long they for their rock-built town,
     Enduring things they understand.
38                                        CHAPTER 4. ZAL AND RUDABEH

      Seek in thy soul the truth of this;
      This before kings proclaim, I was,
      If rightly thou the riddle rede,
      Black earth to musk thou hast changed indeed.
And Zal pondered this riddle but a little while, and then opened his mouth and
      The eternal, final world is shown
      By image of a rock-built town;
      The thicket is our passing life,
      A place of pleasure and of pain,
      A world of dreams and eager strife,
      A time for labour, and loss, and gain;
      This counts thy heart-beats, at its will
      Prolongs their pulse or makes it still.
      But winds and earthquake rouse: a cry
      Goes up of bitterness and woe,
      Now we must leave our homes below
      And climb the rocky fastness high.
      Another reaps our fruit of pain,
      That yet to another leaves his gain;
      So was it aye, must so remain.
      Well for us if our name endure,
      Though we shall pass, beloved and pure,
      For all the evil man hath done,
      Stalks, when he dies, in the sight of the sun;
      When dust is strown on breast and head,
      Then desolation reigns with dread.
When Zal had spoken thus the Shah was glad, and an the assembly were amazed,
and lauded the son of Saum. And the King bade a great banquet be prepared,
and they drank wine until the world was darkened, and the heads of the drinkers
were troubled. Then when morn was come Zal prayed that the Shah would dis-
miss him. But Minuchihr said

Not so, abide with me yet another day, and he bade the drums be beaten to
call together his heroes, for he desired to test Zal also in feats of strength. And
the Shah sat upon the roof of his house and looked down upon the games, and
he beheld Zal, the son of Saum, do mighty deeds of prowess. With his arrow
did he shoot farther and straighter than the rest, and with his spear he pierced
all shields, and in wrestling he overcame the strongest who had never known
defeat. When the nobles beheld these doughty deeds they shouted and clapped
their hands, and Minuchihr loaded Zal with gifts. Then he prepared a reply
unto the letter of Saum. And he wrote
      O my Pehliva, hero of great renown, I have listened to thy desires,
      and I have beheld the youth who is worthy to be thy son. And he

     hath found favour in my sight, and I send him back to thee satisfied.
     May his enemies be impotent to harm him.
Then when the Shah had given him leave to go, Zal set forth, and he bare his
head high in the joy of his heart. And when he came before his father and
gave to him the letter of the Shah, Saum was young again for happiness. Then
the drums sounded the signal to depart, and the tents were prepared, and a
messenger, mounted on a fleet dromedary, was sent unto Mihrab to tell him
that Saum and Zal were setting forth for Cabul. And when Mihrab heard the
tidings his fears were stilled, and he commanded that his army be clad in festal
array. And silken standards of bright colour decked the city, and the sounds of
trumpets, harps, and cymbals filled the air. And Sindokht told the glad tid-
ings to Rudabeh, and they made ready the house like unto a paradise. Carpets
broidered with gold and precious stones did they lay down upon its floors, and
set forth thrones of ivory and rich carving. And the ground they watered with
rose-water and wine.

Then when the guests were come near unto Cabul, Mihrab went forth to meet
them, and he placed upon the head of Zal a crown of diamonds, and they came
into the city in triumph. And all the people did homage before them, and Sin-
dokht met them at the doors of the Kings house, and poured out musk and
precious stones before them. Then Saum, when he had replied to their homage,
smiled, and turned to Sindokht and said

     How much longer dost thou think to hide Rudabeh from our eyes?
And Sindokht said, What wilt thou give me to see the sun?

Then Saum replied, All that thou wilt, even unto my slaves and my throne,
will I give to thee.

Then Sindokht led him within the curtains, and when Saum beheld Rudabeh
he was struck dumb with wonder, for her beauty exceeded dreams, and he knew
not how he could find words to praise her. Then he asked of Mihrab that he
would give unto him her hand, and they concluded an alliance according to
custom and the law. And the lovers were seated upon a throne, and Mihrab
read out the list of the gifts, and it was so long the ear did not suffice to hear
them. Then they repaired unto the banquet, and they feasted seven days with-
out ceasing. And when a month had passed Saum went back to Seistan, and
Zal and Rudabeh followed after him. And speedily did he set forth again to
battle, and left the kingdom in the hands of his son, and Zal administered it
with wisdom and judgment. And Rudabeh sat beside him on the throne, and
he placed a crown of gold upon her head.
Chapter 5


N        OW ere the son of Zal was born, Rudabeh was sore afflicted, and
neither by day nor night could she find rest. Then Zal in his trouble bethought
him of the Simurgh, his nurse, and how she had given unto him a feather that
he might use it in the hour of his need. And he cast the feather into the fire
as she had commanded, and straightway a sound of rushing wings filled the air,
and the sky was darkened and the bird of God stood before Zal. And she said
unto him

     O my son, wherefore art thou troubled, and why are the eyes of this
     lion wet with tears?

Then he told her of his sorrow, and she bade him be of good cheer, For verily
thy nurse who shielded thee, and reared thee when thy father cast thee out, is
come yet again to succour thee.

And she told him how he should act, and when she had done speaking she
turned her once more towards her nest. But Zal did as she had commanded,
and there was born to him a son comely of limb. And when Rudabeh beheld
the babe, she smiled and said

     Verily he shall be called Rustem (which, being interpreted, meaneth
     delivered), for I am delivered of my pains.

And all the land was glad that a son was come unto Zal the hero, and the sounds
of feasting and joy were heard throughout its breadth.

Then fleet messengers brought the sweet tidings unto Saum. And they bare
with them an image of Rustem sewn of silk, whereon were traced the features
of this lions whelp, and a club was put into its hands, and it was mounted upon
a dromedary. Now when Saum beheld the image his heart leaped up within

42                                                     CHAPTER 5. RUSTEM

him. He poured mountains of gold before the messengers, and gave thanks unto
Ormuzd that he had suffered his eyes to look upon this child.

And when eight summers had rolled above their heads, Saum learned that
Rustem was mighty of stature and fair of mien, and his heart yearned towards
him. He therefore made ready a mighty host and passed unto Zaboulistan, that
he might look upon his son. And Rustem rode forth to meet his sire, mounted
upon an elephant of war, and when he beheld Saum he fell upon his face and
craved his blessing. And Saum blessed Rustem, the son of Zal.

Then Rustem spake unto Saum and said, O Pehliva, I rejoice in that I am
sprung from thee, for my desires are not after the feast, neither do I covet sleep
or rest. My heart is fixed upon valour, a horse do I crave and a saddle, a coat
of mail and a helmet, and my delight is in the arrow. Thine enemies will I
vanquish, and may my courage be like unto thine.

And Saum, when he had heard these words, was astonished, and blessed Rustem
yet again. And his eyes could not cease from gazing upon the face of the boy,
and he lingered in the land until a moon had run her course.

Now it befell that when yet two springs had passed, Rustem was awakened
from his slumber by a mighty roaring that shook the walls of the house, even
unto the foundation, and a cry went forth that the white elephant of the King
had broken its chain in fury, and that the housemates were in danger. And
Rustem, when he learned it, sprang from his bed, and desired of the guards
that they should suffer him to pass into the court that he might conquer the
beast. But the guards barred the way from him, saying
     How can we answer for it before the King if thou run into danger?
But Rustem would not listen to their voice. He forced a passage for himself with
his mighty arms, with his strong fists he broke down the barriers of the door.
And when he was without he beheld how that all the warriors were sore afraid
of the elephant, because that he was mad with rage. And Rustem was ashamed
for them in his soul, and he ran towards the beast with a loud cry. Then the
elephant, when he saw him, raised his trunk to strike him, but Rustem beat him
upon the head with his club, and smote him that he died. And when he had
done this deed, he returned unto his bed and slept until the morning. But the
news of his prowess spread throughout the house of the King and far into the
land, even unto the realms of Saum. And Zal, and all men with him, rejoiced
because a hero was arisen in Iran.

Now, while these things were passing in the house of Zal, in the land of Zaboulis-
tan, Minuchihr made him ready to pass from the world, for he had reached twice
sixty years. He called before him Nauder his son, and gave him wise counsels,
and exhorted him that he should ever walk in the paths of wisdom. And he
bade him rest his throne upon the strength of Saum and Zal, and the child that

was sprung from their loins. Then when he had spoken, Minuchihr closed his
eyes and sighed, and there remained of him only a memory in the world.

But Nauder forgot the counsels of his father. He vexed the land and reigned in
anger, and cruel deeds were committed in his name, so that the people rose up
and cried against the King. And men of might came unto Saum and laid before
him their plaints, and the petitions of the people, and they prayed that he would
wrest the crown from the head of Nauder, and place it upon his own. But Saum
was sore grieved when he had heard these words, and he spake, saying
     Not so, for it beseemeth me not to put out my hand after the crown,
     for Nauder is of the race of the Kaianides, and unto them is given
     majesty and might.
Then he girt his sword about his loins, and took with him a host, and rode
before the face of the Shah. And when he was come unto him, Saum exhorted
him with prayers and tears that he would turn him from the paths of evil. And
Nauder listened unto the voice of Saum the Pehliva, and joy was abroad once

But the tidings spread, even into Turan, that Minuchihr the just was departed,
and that the hand of Nauder was heavy upon the land. And Poshang, who was
of the race of Tur, heard the news thereof with gladness, for he deemed that
the time was ripe to remember the vengeance that was due unto the blood of
his sire. Therefore he called about him his warriors, and bade them go forth to
war against Iran, saying the time was come to avenge his father and draw unto
himself the heritage. And while his son Afrasiyab made ready the host to fulfil
the desire of his father, there spread the news that Saum the Pehliva had been
gathered unto the dust, and that Zal tarried in his house to build him a tomb.
And the news gave courage unto Afrasiyab and his men, and they made haste
to gain the frontier.

But the grandson of Feridoun had learned of their coming, and he prepared
him to meet the foes of his land. Then he sent forth an army that overshad-
owed the earth in its progress. But the army of Afrasiyab was great also, and
it covered the ground like unto ants and locusts. And both hosts pitched their
tents in the plains of Dehstan, and made them ready for the fight. And the
horses neighed loud, and the pawing of their hoofs shook the deep places of the
earth, and the dust of their trampling uprose even unto heaven. Then when
they had put their men into array, they fell upon each other, and for two days
did they rage in fierce combat, neither did the victory lean to either side. And
the clamour and confusion were mighty, and earth and sky seemed blended into
one. And the carnage was great, and blood flowed like water, and heads fell
from their trunks like unto autumn leaves that are withered. But on the third
day it came about that the upper hand was given unto the men of Turan, and
Nauder the King, and the flower of his army with him, fell into the hands of the
44                                                    CHAPTER 5. RUSTEM

Then Afrasiyab cut off the head of Nauder the Shah, and sat himself down
upon the throne of light. And he proclaimed himself lord of Iran, and required
of all men that they should do him homage, and pour gifts before his face.
But the people would not listen unto his voice, and they sent messengers into
Seistan, and craved counsel of the Pehliva in their distress. And Zal, when he
heard their tidings, cast aside the sorrow for Saum his father, and girded his
loins in enmity against the son of Tur. And he bade the Iranians choose out
Zew, the son of Thamasp, of the blood of Feridoun, of wisdom in speech, that
he should rule over them on the throne of the Kaianides. And the people did
as Zal commanded.

Now the throne of Feridoun grew young again under the sway of Zew. With
power did he beat back the host of Turan, a covenant of peace did he wring from
their hands. And it was written that the Jihun should divide the lands, and
that the power of Zal the Pehliva should end where men take up their abode in
tents. And Zew ruled rightly in the sight of Ormuzd, and God gave unto the
land the key of abundance. Yet few were the years that he commanded with
equity, and Garshasp his son reigned in his stead. But neither to him was it
given to reign long with glory, and bitter fruit sprouted yet again from the tree
of misfortune. For the throne of the Kaianides was empty, and Afrasiyab, when
he learned thereof, followed the counsels of Poshang his father, and hurried him
unto the land of Iran, that he might place himself upon the seat of power. And
all the men of Iran, when they learned thereof, were sore afraid, and they turned
them once again unto the son of Saum. And they spake unto him hard words,
and heaped reproaches upon him that he had not averted these dangers from
their heads. And Zal in his heart smiled at their ingratitude and lipwisdom, but
he also sorrowed with them and with his land. And he spake, saying

     I have ever done for you what was fitting and right, and all my life
     have I feared no enemy save only old age. But that enemy is now
     upon me, therefore I charge you that ye look unto Rustem to deliver
     you. Howbeit he shall be backed by the counsels of his father.

Then he called before him his son, who was yet of tender age, and he said unto

     O my son, thy lips still smell of milk, and thy heart should go out
     to pleasure. But the days are grave, and Iran looketh unto thee in
     its danger. I must send thee forth to cope with heroes.

And Rustem answered and said, Thou knowest, O my father, that my desires
are rather after war than pleasures. Give unto me, therefore, a steed of strength
and the mace of Saum thy father, and suffer that I go out to meet the hosts of

Then Zals heart laughed within him when he heard these words of manhood.

And he commanded that all the flocks of horses, both from Zaboulistan and
Cabul, be brought before his son, that he might choose from their midst his
steed of battle. And they were passed in order before Rustem, and he laid upon
the backs of each his hand of might to test them if they could bear his weight
of valour. And the horses shuddered as they bent beneath his grasp, and sank
upon their haunches in weakness. And thus did he do with them all in turn,
until he came unto the flocks of Cabul. Then he perceived in their midst a mare
mighty and strong, and there followed after her a colt like to its mother, with the
chest and shoulders of a lion. And in strength it seemed like an elephant, and
in colour it was as rose leaves that have been scattered upon a saffron ground.
Now Rustem, when he had tested the colt with his eyes, made a running knot
in his cord and threw it about the beast. And he caught the colt in the snare,
though the mare defended it mightily. Then the keeper of the flock came before
Rustem and said

      O youth puissant and tall, take not, I counsel thee, the horse of

And Rustem answered him and asked, To whom then pertaineth this steed? I
see no mark upon its flanks.

And the keeper said, We know not its master, but rumours are rife anent it
throughout the land, and men name it the Rakush of Rustem. And I warn
thee, the mother will never permit thee to ride on it. Three years has it been
ready for the saddle, but none would she suffer to mount thereon.

Then Rustem, when he heard these words, swung himself upon the colt with
a great bound. And the mare, when she saw it, ran at him and would have
pulled him down, but when she had heard his voice she suffered it. And the
rose-coloured steed bore Rustem along the plains like unto the wind. Then when
he was returned, the son of Zal spake and said to the keeper

      I pray thee, tell unto me what is the price of this dragon?

But the keeper replied, If thou be Rustem, mount him, and retrieve the sorrows
of Iran. For his price is the land of Iran, and seated upon him thou wilt save
the world.

And Rustem rejoiced in Rakush (whose name, being interpreted, meaneth the
lightning), and Zal rejoiced with him, and they made them ready to stand
against Afrasiyab.

Now it was in the time of roses, and the meadows smiled with verdure, when
Zal led forth his hosts against the offspring of Tur. And the standard of Kawah
streamed upon the breeze, and Mihrab marched on the left, and Gustahem
marched on the right, and Zal went in the midst of the men, but Rustem went
at the head of all. And there followed after him a number like to the sands of
46                                                      CHAPTER 5. RUSTEM

the sea, and the sounds of cymbals and bells made a noise throughout the land
like unto the day of judgment, when the earth shall cry unto the dead, Arise.
And they marched in order even unto the shores of the river Rai, and the two
armies were but some farsangs apart.

Albeit, when Afrasiyab heard that Rustem and Zal were come out against him,
he was in nowise dismayed, for he said, The son is but a boy, and the father
is old; it will not, therefore, be hard for me to keep my power in Iran. And he
made ready his warriors with gladness of heart.

But Zal, when he had drawn up his army in battle array, spake unto them,
      O men valiant in fight, we are great in number, but there is wanting
      to us a chief, for we are without the counsels of a Shah, and verily no
      labour succeedeth when the head is lacking. But rejoice, and be not
      downcast in your hearts, for a Mubid hath revealed unto me that
      there yet liveth one of the race of Feridoun to whom pertaineth the
      throne, and that he is a youth wise and brave.
And when he had thus spoken, he turned him to Rustem and said
      I charge thee, O my son, depart in haste for the Mount Alberz,
      neither tarry by the way. And wend thee unto Kai Kobad, and say
      unto him that his army awaiteth him, and that the throne of the
      Kaianides is empty.
And Rustem, when he had heard his fathers command, touched with his eye-
lashes the ground before his feet, and straightway departed. In his hand he bare
a mace of might, and under him was Rakush the swift of foot. And he rode till
he came within sight of the Mount Alberz, whereon had stood the cradle of his
father. Then he beheld at its foot a house beauteous like unto that of a king.
And around it was spread a garden whence came the sounds of running waters,
and trees of tall stature uprose therein, and under their shade, by a gurgling rill,
there stood a throne, and a youth, fair like to the moon, was seated thereon.
And round about him leaned knights girt with red sashes of power, and you
would have said it was a paradise for perfume and beauty.

Now when those within the garden beheld the son of Zal ride by, they came
out unto him and said
      O Pehliva, it behoveth us not to let thee go farther before thou hast
      permitted us to greet thee as our guest. We pray thee, therefore,
      descend from off thy horse and drink the cup of friendship in our
But Rustem said, Not so, I thank you, but suffer that I may pass unto the
mountain with an errand that brooketh no delay. For the borders of Iran are

encircled by the enemy, and the throne is empty of a king. Wherefore I may
not stay to taste of wine.

Then they answered him, If thou goest unto the mount, tell us, we pray thee,
thy mission, for unto us is it given to guard its sides.

And Rustem replied, I seek there a king of the seed of Feridoun, who cleansed
the world of the abominations of Zohak, a youth who reareth high his head. I
pray ye, therefore, if ye know aught of Kai Kobad, that ye give me tidings where
I may find him.

Then the youth that sat upon the throne opened his mouth and said, Kai
Kobad is known unto me, and if thou wilt enter this garden and rejoice my soul
with thy presence I will give thee tidings concerning him.

When Rustem heard these words he sprang from off his horse and came within
the gates. And the youth took his hand and led him unto the steps of the
throne. Then he mounted it yet again, and when he had filled a cup with wine,
he pledged the guest within his gates. Then he gave a cup unto Rustem, and
questioned him wherefore he sought for Kai Kobad, and at whose desire he was
come forth to find him. And Rustem told him of the Mubids, and how that
his father had sent him with all speed to pray the young King that he would
be their Shah, and lead the host against the enemies of Iran. Then the youth,
when he had listened to an end, smiled and said

     O Pehliva, behold me, for verily I am Kai Kobad of the race of

And Rustem, when he had heard these words, fell on the ground before his feet,
and saluted him Shah. Then the King raised him, and commanded that the
slaves should give him yet another cup of wine, and he bore it to his lips in
honour of Rustem, the son of Zal, the son of Saum, the son of Neriman. And
they gave a cup also unto Rustem, and he cried

     May the Shah live for ever!

Then instruments of music rent the air, and joy spread over all the assembly.
But when silence was fallen yet again, Kai Kobad opened his mouth and said

     Hearken, O my knights, unto the dream that I had dreamed, and ye
     will know wherefore I called upon you this day to stand in majesty
     about my throne. For in my sleep I beheld two falcons white of wing,
     and they came out unto me from Iran, and in their beaks they bare
     a sunny crown. And the crown they placed upon my head. And
     behold now is Rustem come out unto me like to a white bird, and
     his father, the nursling of a bird, hath sent him, and they have given
     unto me the crown of Iran.
48                                                    CHAPTER 5. RUSTEM

And Rustem, when he had heard this dream, said, Surely thy vision was given
unto thee of God! But now, I pray thee, up and tarry no longer, for the land of
Iran groaneth sore and awaiteth thee with much travail.

So Kai Kobad listened to the desires of Rustem, and swung him upon his steed
of war; and they rode day and night, until they came down from the hills unto
the green plains that are watered by murmuring streams. And Rustem brought
the King safely through the outposts of the enemy; and when the night was
fallen, he led him within the tents of Zal, and none knew that he was come save
only the Mubids. For seven days did they hold counsel together, and on the
eighth the message of the stars was received with joy. And Zal made ready a
throne of ivory and a banquet, and the crown of Iran was placed upon the head
of the young Shah. Then the nobles came and did homage before him, and they
revelled in wine till the night was far spent. And they prayed him that he would
make him ready to lead them against the Turks. And Kai Kobad mustered the
army and did as they desired.

And soon the battle raged hot and strong many days, and deeds of valour
were done on either side; but the men of Turan could not stand against the men
of Iran, neither could the strength of Rustem be broken. For he put forth the
power of a lion, and his shadow extended for miles. And from that day men
named him Tehemten (which being interpreted, meaneth the strong-limbed),
for he did deeds of prowess in the sight of men. And Afrasiyab was discomfited,
and fled before him, and his army followed after, and their hearts were bruised
and full of care.

But the Iranians, when they beheld that their foes had vanished before them,
turned them unto Kai Kobad and did homage before his throne. And Kai Kobad
celebrated the victory with much pomp, as is the manner of kings; and he placed
Rustem upon his right hand and Zal upon his left, and they feasted and made
them merry with wine.

In the meantime Afrasiyab returned him unto Poshang his father, who was
of the race of Tur. And he came before him right sorrowful and spake, saying

     O King, whose name is glorious, thou didst evil to provoke this war.
     The land which Feridoun the great did give in ancient time unto
     Tur the valiant, it hath been delivered unto thee, and the partition
     was just. Why, therefore, seekest thou to enlarge thy border? Verily
     I say, if thou haste not to make peace with Iran, Kai Kobad will
     send out against us an army from the four quarters of the earth,
     and they will subdue us, and by our own act we shall make the land
     too narrow for us. For the world is not delivered of the race of Irij,
     and the noxious poison hath not been converted into honey. For
     when one dieth another taketh his place, and never do they leave
     the world without a master. And there is arisen of the race of Saum

     a warrior called Rustem, and none can withstand him. He hath
     broken the power of thine host, and the world hath not seen his
     like for stoutness; and withal he is but little more than a weanling.
     Ponder therefore, O King, how shall it be when he may be come
     to years of vigour. Surely I am a man who desireth to possess the
     world, the stay of thine army, and thy refuge in danger, but before
     this boy my power fadeth like unto the mists that rise above the
When the King of Turan had listened to these words, the tears of bitterness fell
from his eyes. Then he called before him a scribe and he bade him write a letter
unto Kai Kobad, the Shah. And the scribe adorned it with many colours and
fair designs. And the scribe wrote
     In the name of Ormuzd, the ruler of the sun and moon, greeting
     and salutation unto Kai Kobad the gracious from the meanest of
     his servants. Listen unto me, O valiant Shah, and ponder the words
     that I shall write. May grace fall upon the soul of Feridoun, who
     wove the woof of our race! Why should we any longer hold the world
     in confusion? That which he fixed, surely it was right, for he parted
     the world with equity, and we do wrong before him when we depart
     from the grooves that he hath shaped. I pray thee, therefore, let us
     no longer speak of Tur and his evil acts unto Irij, for if Irij was the
     cause of our hates, surely by Minuchihr hath he been avenged. Let
     us return, then, within the bounds that Feridoun hath blest, and let
     us part the world anew, as it was parted for Tur, and Selim, and Irij.
     For wherefore should we seek the land of another, since in the end
     each will receive in heritage a spot no larger than his body? If then
     Kai Kobad will listen unto my prayer, let the Jihun be the boundary
     between us, and none of my people shall behold its waters, nay, not
     even in a dream, neither shall any Iranian cross its floods, save only
     in amity.
And the King put his seal upon the letter and sent it unto Kai Kobad, and the
messenger bare with him rich gifts of jewels and steeds of Araby. And when Kai
Kobad had read the letter he smiled in his spirit and said
     Verily not my people sought out this war but Afrasiyab, who deemed
     that he could wrest unto himself the crown of Iran, and could subdue
     the masterless land unto his will. And he hath but followed in the
     footsteps of Tur his father, for even as he robbed the throne of Irij, so
     did Afrasiyab take from it Nauder the Shah. And I say to you that
     I need not make peace with you because of any fear, but I will do it
     because war is not pleasing unto me. I will give unto you, therefore,
     the farther side of the river, and it shall be a boundary between us,
     and I pray that Afrasiyab may find rest within his borders.
And Kai Kobad did according to his word. He drew up a fresh covenant between
them, and planted a new tree in the garden of power. And the messenger took
50                                                   CHAPTER 5. RUSTEM

the writing unto Poshang, King of Turan, and Kai Kobad proclaimed that there
was peace throughout the land.

Now for the space of an hundred years did Kai Kobad rule over Iran, and
he administered his realm with clemency, and the earth was quiet before him,
and he gat his people great honour, and I ask of you what king can be likened
unto him? But when this time had passed, his strength waned, and he knew
that a green leaf was about to fade. So he called before him Kai Kaous his son,
and gave unto him counsels many and wise. And when he had done speaking
he bade them make ready his grave, and he exchanged the palace for the tomb.
And thus endeth the history of Kai Kobad the glorious. It behoveth us now to
speak of his son.
Chapter 6


K        AI KAOUS seated him on the crystal throne, and the world was obe-
dient to his will. But Ahriman was angry that his power was so long broken in
Iran, and he sware unto himself that happiness should no longer smile upon the
land. And he imagined guile in his black heart.

Now it came about one day that the Shah sat in his trellised bower in the
garden of roses, drinking wine and making merry with his court. Then Ahri-
man, when he beheld that they were thus forgetful of care, saw that the time
served him. So he sent forth a Deev clad as a singer, and bade him ask for audi-
ence before the Shah. And the Deev did as he was bidden. And he came before
the servants of the King, and begged for entrance into the arbour of flowers.

     For verily, he said, I am a singer of sweet songs, and I come from
     Mazinderan, and desire to pour my homage at the throne of my lord.

Now when Kai Kaous learned that a singer waited without, he commanded that
he should be brought in. Then he gave him wine and permitted him to open
his mouth before him. Now the Deev, when he had done homage before the
Shah, warbled unto his lyre words of deep cunning. And he sang how that no
land was like unto his own for beauty and riches, and he inflamed the desires of
the Shah after Mazinderan. And Ahriman fanned the flame within the mind of
the King, and when the Deev had ended, Kai Kaous was become uplifted in his
heart, like unto Jemshid. So he turned him unto his warriors and said

     O my friends, mighty and brave, we have abandoned ourselves unto
     feasting, we have revelled in the arms of peace. But it behoveth not
     men to live long in this wise, lest they grow idle and weak. And

52                        CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

      above all it behoveth not me that am a Shah, for the Shah is called
      to be a hero among men, and the world should be his footstool. Now
      verily the power and splendour of Jemshid was lower than mine, and
      my wealth surpasseth that of Zohak and Kai Kobad. It beseemeth
      me therefore to be greater also than they in prowess, and to be
      master of Mazinderan, which ever resisted their might. I bid you
      therefore make ready for combat, and I will lead you into the land
      whereof this singer hath sung so sweetly.

Now the nobles, when they had heard these words, grew pale with fear, for there
was not one among them who listed to combat with Deevs. But none durst open
their lips in answer, yet their hearts were full of fear and their mouths of sighs.
But at last, when they could keep silence no longer, some spake and said

      Lord, we are thy servants, and that which thou biddest surely we
      must do.

But among themselves they took counsel how they should act if the Shah held
firm by his desire. And they recalled how not even Jemshid in his pride had
thought to conquer the Deevs of Mazinderan, before whom the sword hath
no power and wisdom no avail, neither had Feridoun, learned in magic, or
Minuchihr the mighty, ventured on this emprise. Then they bethought them
of Zal the son of Saum, and they sent forth a wind-footed dromedary and a
messenger. And they said unto Zal

      Haste, we pray thee, neither tarry to cleanse thine head though it be
      covered with dust; for Ahriman hath strown evil seed in the heart
      of Kai Kaous, and it ripeneth to fruit already, and already it hath
      borne fruit, and Iran is threatened with danger. But we look to thee
      that thou speak words of good counsel unto the Shah, and avert
      these sorrows from our heads.

Now Zal was sore distressed when he learned that a leaf on the tree of the
Kaianides was thus faded. And he said

      Kai Kaous is void of knowledge, and the sun must revolve yet oft
      above his head before he learneth the wisdom of the great. For unto
      true wisdom alone is it given to know when to strike and when to
      tarry. But he is like unto a child who deemeth the world will tremble
      if it but upraiseth its sword. And but for my duty unto God and
      unto Iran, I would abandon him to his folly.

Then Zal revolved in his mind this trouble even until the sun was set. But when
the glory of the world was arisen yet again, he girt his sash about his loins, and
took in his hand the mace of might and set forth unto the throne of the Shah.
And he craved for audience, and prostrated himself before the King. And when
Kai Kaous permitted it, Zal opened his mouth and spake words of wisdom. And
he said

     O King powerful and great, word is come unto me, even unto Seistan,
     of thy device. But it seemeth unto me that mine ears have not
     heard aright. For Mazinderan is the abode of Deevs, and no man
     can overcome their skill. Give not, therefore, unto the wind thy men
     and thy treasures. Turn, I pray thee, from this scheme, neither plant
     in the garden of Iran the tree of folly, whose leaves are curses and
     whose fruits are evil, for thus did not the kings before thee.
Then Kai Kaous, when he had listened, said, I despise not thy counsel, nor do
I bid thee hold thy peace, for thou art a pillar unto Iran. But neither shall thy
words divert me from my desire, and Mazinderan shall pay tribute to my hands.
For thou considerest not how that my heart is bolder and my might more great
than that of my fathers before me. I go, therefore, and the kingdom will I leave
between thy hands and those of Rustem thy son.

When Zal heard these words, and beheld that Kai Kaous was firm in his pur-
pose, he ceased from opposing. Then he bowed him unto the dust, and spake,

     O Shah, it is thine to command, and whether it be just or unjust,
     thy servants serve thee even unto death. I have spoken the words
     that weighed upon my heart. Three things it is not given to do,
     even unto a king: to elude death, to bind up the eye of destiny, to
     live without nurture. Mayst thou never repent thee of thy resolve,
     mayst thou never regret my counsels in the hour of danger, may the
     might of the Shah shine for ever!
And when he had ended, Zal went out of the presence of the King, and he
was right sorrowful, and the nobles mourned with him when they learned how
nought had been accomplished.

Then, ere the day succeeded unto the night, Kai Kaous set forth with his horse-
men unto Mazinderan.

Now when they were come within its borders, Kai Kaous commanded Gew
that he should choose forth a strong band from out their midst, and go before
the city with mighty clubs. And he bade him destroy the dwellers of the town,
neither should they spare the women nor the young, because that they too were
the children of Deevs. And Gew did as the Shah commanded. Then clubs rained
down upon the people like to hail, and the city that resembled a garden was
changed into a desert, and all the inmates thereof perished at the hands of the
enemy, neither did they find any mercy in their eyes. But when the men of Iran
had ceased from killing, they sent news thereof unto the Shah, and told him of
the riches that were hidden within the palaces.

And Kai Kaous said, Blessed be he who sang to me of the glories of this realm.
54                       CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

And he marched after Gew with the rest of his host, and seven days did they
never cease from plundering, neither could they be sated with the gold and jew-
els that they found. But on the eighth the tidings of their deeds pierced unto
the King of Mazinderan, and his heart was heavy with care. He therefore sent a
messenger unto the mountains where dwelt the White Deev, who was powerful
and strong, and he entreated him that he would come unto his succour, or verily
the land would perish under the feet of Iran.

The White Deev, when he heard the message, uprose like to a mountain in
his strength, and he said
     Let not the King of Mazinderan be troubled, for surely the hosts of
     Iran shall vanish at my approach.
Then, when the night was fallen, he spread a dark cloud, heavy and thick,
over the land, and no light could pierce it, neither could fires be seen across its
midst, and you would have said the world was steeped in pitch. And the army
of Iran was wrapt in a tent of blackness. Then the Deev caused it to rain stones
and javelins, and the Iranians could not behold their source, neither could they
defend themselves or stand against the arts of magic. And they wandered astray
in their distress, and no man could find his fellow, and their hearts were angered
against the Shah for this emprise. But when the morning was come, and glory
was arisen upon the world, they could not see it, for the light of their eyes was
gone out. And Kai Kaous too was blinded, and he wept sore, and the whole
army wept with him in their anguish. And the Shah cried in his distress
     O Zal, O my Pehliva wise and great, wherefore did I shut mine ear
     unto thy voice!
And the army echoed his words in their hearts, but their lips were silent for
boundless sorrow.

Then the White Deev spake unto Kai Kaous with a voice of thunder, and he
     O King, thou hast been struck like to a rotten trunk, on thine
     own head alone resteth this destruction, for thou hast attained unto
     Mazinderan, and entered the land after which thy heart desired.
And he bade his legion guard the Shah and all his army, and he withheld from
them wine and good cheer, and gave unto them but enough for sustenance, for
he desired not that they should die, but gloried in their wretchedness. Then
when he had so done he sent tidings thereof unto the King of Mazinderan. And
he bade the King take back the booty and rejoice in the defeat of Iran. And
he counselled him that he suffer not Kai Kaous to perish, that he might learn
to know good fortune from ill. And the White Deev bade the King sing praises
unto Ahriman the mighty, who had sent him unto his aid. And having spoken
thus he returned him unto his home in the mountains, but the King of Mazin-
deran rejoiced in his spoils.

Now Kai Kaous remained in the land after which he had yearned, and his
heart was heavy with bitterness. And the eyes of his soul were opened, and
he cried continually, This fault is mine; and he cast about in his spirit how he
might release his host from the hands of the Deevs. But the Deevs guarded him
straitly, and he could send no messenger into Iran. Howbeit it came about that
a messenger escaped their borders, and bore unto Zal the writing of Kai Kaous
the afflicted. And Kai Kaous bowed himself in his spirit unto the dust before
Zal, and he wrote to him all that was come about, and how that he and his host
were blind and captive, and he poured forth his repentance, and he said
     I have sought what the foolish seek, and found what they find. And
     if thou wilt not gird thy loins to succour me, I perish indeed.
When Zal heard this message he gnawed his hands in vexation. Then he called
before him Rustem, and said
     The hour is come to saddle Rakush and to avenge the world with thy
     sword. As for me, I number two hundred years, and have no longer
     the strength to fight with Deevs. But thou art young and mighty.
     Cast about thee, therefore, thy leopard-skin and deliver Iran from
And Rustem said, My sword is ready, and I will go hence as thou dost bid. Yet
of old, O my father, the mighty did not go forth of their own will to fight the
powers of hell, neither doth one who is not weary of this world go into the mouth
of a hungry lion. But if God be with me I shall overcome the Deevs and gird our
army anew with the sashes of might. And I pray that His blessing rest upon me.

Then Zal, when he heard these noble words, blessed his son, and prayed that
Ormuzd too would give him his blessing. And he bestowed on him wise counsel,
and told him how he could come unto the land of Mazinderan. And he said
     Two roads lead unto this kingdom, and both are hard and fraught
     with danger. The one taken of Kai Kaous is the safest, but it is long,
     and it behoveth vengeance to be fleet. Choose therefore, I charge
     thee, the shorter road, though it be beset with baleful things, and
     may Ormuzd return thee safe unto mine arms.
When Rustem had drunk in the counsels of his father he seated him on Rakush
the fleet of foot. But when he would have departed, his mother came out before
him, and she made great wailing that Rustem should go before the evil Deevs.
And she would have hindered him, but Rustem suffered her not. He comforted
her with his voice, and bade her be of good cheer. He showed unto her how
that he had not of his own choice chosen this adventure. And he bade her rest
her hopes in God. And when he had done speaking she let him depart, but the
heart of Rudabeh yearned after her son, and her eyes were red with weeping
many days.
56                       CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

In the meanwhile the young hero of the world sped forth to do his duty unto the
Shah. And Rakush caused the ground to vanish under his feet, and in twelve
hours was a two days journey accomplished. Then when eve was fallen, Rustem
ensnared a wild ass, and made a fire and roasted it for his meal. And when
he had done he released Rakush from the bonds of his saddle and prepared for
himself a couch among the reeds, neither was he afraid of wild beasts or of Deevs.

But in the reeds was hidden the lair of a fierce lion, and the lion when he
returned unto his haunt beheld the tall man and the horse that watched beside
him. And he rejoiced at the fat meal that he held was in store. And he thought
within his mind, I will first subdue the steed, then the rider will be an easy
prey. And he fell upon Rakush. But Rakush defended himself mightily. With
his hoofs did he trample upon the forehead of the lion, with his sharp teeth did
he tear his skin, and he trampled upon him till he died. But the noise of the
struggle had wakened Rustem, and when he beheld the body of the lion, and
Rakush standing beside it, he knew what had been done. Then he opened his
mouth in reproof, and said

     O thoughtless steed, who bade thee combat lions? Wherefore didst
     thou not wake me? for if thou hadst been overcome, who, I pray
     thee, could have borne my weight into Mazinderan, whither I must
     hie me to deliver the Shah?

When he had thus spoken he turned again to sleep, but Rakush was sorrowful
and downcast in his spirit.

Now when morn was come they set forth once again upon their travels. And
all day long they passed through a desert, and the pitiless sun burned down
upon their heads, and the sand was living fire, and the steed and rider were like
to perish of thirst, and nowhere could Rustem find the traces of water. So he
made him ready to die, and commended his soul unto God, and prayed Him to
remember Kai Kaous, His servant, nor abandon him in his distress. Then he
laid him down to await the end. But lo! when he thought it was come, there
passed before him a ram, well nourished and fat. And Rustem said unto himself

     Surely the watering-place of this beast cannot be distant.

Then he roused him and led Rakush and followed in the footsteps of the ram,
and behold, it led him unto a spring of water, cool and clear. And Rustem drank
thereof with greed, and he gave unto Rakush, and bathed him in the waters,
and when they were both refreshed he sought for the traces of the ram. And
they were nowhere to be found. Then Rustem knew that Ormuzd had wrought
a wonder for his sake, and he fell upon the ground and lifted up his soul in
thankfulness. Then when he had caught and eaten a wild ass, he laid him down
to slumber. And he spake and said unto Rakush

     I charge thee, O my steed, that thou seek no strife during my slum-
     bers. If an enemy cometh before thee, come unto me and neigh
     beside mine ear, and verily I will waken and come to thine aid.

And Rakush listened, and when he saw that Rustem slumbered, he gambolled
and grazed beside him. But when some watches of the night were spent, there
came forth an angry dragon whose home was in this spot, a dragon fierce and
fiery, whom even the Deevs dared not encounter. And when he beheld Rakush
and Rustem he was astonished that a man should slumber softly beside his lair.
And he came towards them with his breath of poison. Then Rakush, when he
saw it, stamped his hoofs upon the ground and beat the air with his tail, so
that the noise thereof resounded wide, and Rustem was awakened with the din.
And he was angry with Rakush that he had wakened him, for the dragon had
vanished, and he could see no cause for fear. And he said

     It is thy fault, O unkind steed, that slumber is fled from me.

Then he turned him to sleep once again. But when the dragon saw it he came
forth once more, and once more did Rakush wake Rustem, and once more did
the dragon vanish ere the eyes of Rustem were opened. And when Rakush had
thus awakened the hero yet three times, Rustem was beside him with anger,
and wisdom departed from its dwelling. He piled reproaches upon the horse,
and hurled bitter words upon his head, and he sware that if he acted thus
again he would slay him with his arm of power, and would wander on foot unto
Mazinderan. And he said

     I bade thee call upon me if dangers menaced, but thou sufferest me
     not to slumber when all is well.

Then Rustem drew his leopard-skin about him and laid him down again to sleep.
But Rakush was pained in his spirit, and pawed the ground in his vexation. Then
the dragon came forth yet again, and was about to fall upon Rakush, and the
steed was sore distressed how he should act. But he took courage and came
beside Rustem once more, and stamped upon the ground and neighed and woke
him. And Rustem sprang up in fury, but this time it was given unto him to
behold the dragon, and he knew that Rakush had done that which was right.
And he drew his armour about him and unsheathed his sword, and came forth
to meet the fiery beast. Then the dragon said

     What is thy name, and who art thou that dost venture against me?
     for verily the woman that bore thee shall weep.

And the Pehliva answered, I am Rustem, of the seed of Zal, and in myself I am
an host, and none can withstand my might.

But the dragon laughed at his words, and held them to be vain boasting. Then
he fell upon Rustem, the son of Zal, and he wound himself about his body, and
would have crushed him with his writhings, and you would have said that the
58                       CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

end of this hero was come. But Rakush, when he beheld the straits of his mas-
ter, sprang upon the dragon from the rear, and he tore him as he had torn the
lion, and Rustem pierced the beast with his sword, and between them the world
was delivered of this scourge. Then Rustem was glad, and he praised Rakush,
and washed him at the fountain, and gave thanks to God who had given unto
him the victory. And when he had so done he sprang into his saddle, and rode
until they were come unto the land of the magicians.

Now when evening was fallen over the land they came unto a green and shady
vale, and a brook ran through it, and cool woods clothed its sides. And beside
a spring there was spread a table, and wine and all manner of good cheer stood
thereon. And Rustem, when he saw it, loosened his saddle and bade Rakush
graze and drink, and he seated him beside the table and enjoyed its fare. And
his spirit laughed with pleasure that he had found a table ready dressed within
the desert, for he knew not that it was the table of the magicians, who were fled
on his approach. And he ate and drank, and when he had stilled his hunger he
took up a lyre that lay beside him, and he lilted to it in his ease of heart. And
he sang
     Rustem is the scourge of the base,
     Not for him were pleasures meant;
     Rare are his feasts and holidays,
     His garden is the desert place,
     The battlefield his tournament.

     There the sword of Rustem cleaves
     Not the armour of jousting knights,
     But the skulls of dragons and Deevs;
     Nor shall Rustem, as he believes,
     Ever be quit of the foes he fights.

     Cups of wine and wreaths of rose,
     Gardens where cool arbours stand,
     Fortune gave such gifts as those
     Not to Rustem, but hurtling foes,
     Strife, and a warriors heart and hand.

Now the song of Rustem was come to the ears of one of the witches, and she
changed herself into a damsel with a face of spring. And she came before Rustem
and asked him his name, and toyed with him, and he was pleased with her com-
pany. And he poured out wine and handed it unto her, and bade her drink unto
Ormuzd. But the magician, when she heard the name of God, fell into a trem-
ble and her visage changed, and Rustem beheld her in all her vileness. Then
his quick spirit knew her for what she was, and he made a noose and caught
her in his snare, and severed her in twain. And all the magicians, when they
saw it, were afraid, and none durst come forth to meet the hero. But Rustem
straightway departed from this spot.

And Rustem rode till that he was come unto a land where the sun never shineth,
neither stars lighten the blackness, and he could not see his path. So he suffered
Rakush to lead him at his will. And they stumbled along amid the blackness,
but at the end they came out again into the light. And Rustem beheld a land
that was swathed in verdure, and fields wherein the crops were sprouting. Then
he loosened Rakush and bade him graze, and laid himself down to slumber

Now Rakush went forth to graze in a field that had been sown, and the guardian
thereof, when he saw it, was angry, and ran unto the spot where Rustem was
couched, and beat the soles of his feet with a stick and woke him. And he
flung reproaches and evil words upon him for that his horse was broken into
the pastures. Then Rustem was angry, and fell upon the man, and took him
by the ears and tore them from his body. And the man fled, howling in his
agony, and came before Aulad, the ruler of the land, and laid his plaints before
him. And Aulad also was angry, and went forth to seek Rustem, and demand
his name and mission, and wherefore he had thus disturbed their peace. And
Aulad sware that he would destroy him for this deed.

Then Rustem answered, I am the thunder-cloud that sendeth forth lightnings,
and none can stand before my strength. But if thou shouldest hear my name,
the blood would stand still within thy veins. Thou art come against me with
an host, see therefore how I shall scatter them like the wind.

And when he had thus spoken, Rustem fell upon the warriors of Aulad, and
he beat them down before him, and their heads fell under the blows of his
sword of death. And the army was routed at the hands of one man. Now
Aulad, when he saw it, wept and fled; but Rustem pursued him, and threw his
noose about him, and caught him in the snare. And the world became dark
unto Aulad. Then Rustem bound him, and threw him on the ground, and said
     If thou speak unto me that which is true, verily I will release thee;
     and when I shall have overcome the Deevs, I will give the land of
     Mazinderan into thy hands. Tell me, therefore, where dwelleth the
     White Deev, and where may I find the Shah and his men, and how
     can I deliver them from bondage?
Then Aulad answered and told Rustem how it was an hundred farsangs unto
the spot where Kai Kaous groaned in his bondage, and how it was yet another
hundred unto the mountain pass where dwelt the Deev. And he told him how
the passes were guarded by lions and magicians and mighty men, and how none
had ever pierced thereunto. And he counselled him to desist from this quest.

But Rustem smiled, and said, Be thou my guide, and thou wilt behold an
elephant overcome the might of evil.
60                       CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

And when he had thus spoken he sprang upon Rakush, and Aulad in his bonds
ran after him, and they sped like the wind, neither did they halt by night or
day till they were come unto the spot where Kai Kaous had been smitten by
the Deevs. And when they were come there they could behold the watch-fires
of Mazinderan. Then Rustem laid him down to sleep, and he tied Aulad unto a
tree that he should not escape him. But when the sun was risen he laid the mace
of Saum before his saddle, and rode with gladness towards the city of the Deevs.

Now when Rustem was come nigh unto the tents of Arzang, that led the army
of Mazinderan, he uttered a cry that rent the mountains. And the cry brought
forth Arzang from out his tent, and when he perceived Rustem he ran at him,
and would have thrown him down. But Rustem sprang upon Arzang, and he
seemed an insect in his grasp. And he overcame him, and parted his head from
his body, and hung it upon his saddlebow in triumph. And fear came upon the
army of Mazinderan when they saw it, and they fled in faintness of spirit, and so
great was the confusion that none beheld whither he bent his steps. And fathers
fell upon sons, and brothers upon brothers, and dismay was spread throughout
the land.

Then Rustem loosened the bonds of Aulad, and bade him lead him into the
city where Kai Kaous pined in his bondage. And Aulad led him. Now when
they neared the city, Rakush neighed so loud that the sound pierced even unto
the spot where Kai Kaous was hidden. And the Shah, when he heard it, rejoiced,
for he knew that succour was come. And he told it unto his comrades. But they
refused to listen unto these words, and deemed that grief had distraught his
wits. In vain therefore did Kai Kaous insist unto them that his ears had heard
the voice of Rakush. But not long did he combat their unbelief, for presently
there came before him Tehemten, the stout of limb, and when the nobles heard
his voice and his step they repented them of their doubts. And Kai Kaous em-
braced Rustem and blessed him, and questioned him of his journey and of Zal.
Then he said

O my Pehliva, we may no longer waste the moments with sweet words. I must
send thee forth yet again to battle. For when the White Deev shall learn that
Arzang is defeated, he will come forth from out his mountain fastness, and bring
with him the whole multitude of evil ones, and even thy might will not stand
before them. Go therefore unto the Seven Mountains, and conquer the White
Deev ere the tidings reach him of thy coming. Unto thee alone can Iran look
for her succour, for I cannot aid thee, neither can my warriors assist thee with
their arms, for our eyes are filled with darkness, and their light is gone out. Yet
I grieve to send thee into this emprise alone, for I have heard it spoken that the
dwelling of the Deevs is a spot of fear and terror, but alas! my grief is of no
avail. And I conjure thee, slay the Deev, and bring unto me the blood of his
heart, for a Mubid hath revealed unto me that only by this blood can our sight
be restored. And go forth now, my son, and may Ormuzd be gracious unto thee,
and may the tree of gladness sprout again for Iran!

Then Rustem did as Kai Kaous commanded, and he rode forth, and Aulad
went beside him to lead him in the way. And when they had passed the Seven
Mountains and were come unto the gates of hell, Rustem spake unto Aulad, and
     Thou hast ever led me aright, and all that thou hast spoken I have
     surely found it true. Tell me, therefore, now how I shall vanquish
     the Deevs.
And Aulad said, Tarry, I counsel thee, till that the sun be high in the heavens.
For when it beateth fierce upon the earth the Deevs are wont to lay them down
to slumber, and when they are drunk with sleep they shall fall an easy prey into
thine hands.

Then Rustem did as Aulad bade him, and he halted by the roadside, and he
bound Aulad from head to foot in his snare, and he seated himself upon the
ends. But when the sun was high he drew forth his sword from out its sheath,
and shouted loud his name, and flung it among the Deevs like to a thunderbolt.
Then before they were well awakened from their sleep, he threw himself upon
them, and none could resist him, and he scattered their heads with his sword.
And when he had dispersed the guards he came unto the lair of the White Deev.

Then Rustem stepped within the rocky tomb wherein the Deev was hidden,
and the air was murky and heavy with evil odours, and the Pehliva could not
see his path. But he went on void of fear, though the spot was fearful and
dangers lurked in its sides. And when he was come unto the end of the cave
he found a great mass like to a mountain, and it was the Deev in his midday
slumber. Then Rustem woke him, and the Deev was astonished at his daring,
and sprang at the hero, and threw a great stone like a small mountain upon
him. And Rustems heart trembled, and he said unto himself, If I escape to-day,
I shall live for ever. And he fell on the Deev, and they struggled hot and sore,
and the Deev tore Rustem, but Rustem defended himself, and they wrestled
with force till that the blood and sweat ran down in rivers from their bodies.
Then Rustem prayed to God, and God heard him and gave him strength, and
in the end Rustem overcame the White Deev and slew him. And he severed his
head from his trunk, and cut his heart from out his midst.

Then Rustem returned him unto Aulad and told him what he had done. And
Aulad said
     O brave lion, who hast vanquished the world with thy sword, release
     now, I pray thee, this thy servant, for thy snare is entered into my
     flesh. And suffer that I recall to thee how that thou hast promised
     to me a recompense, and surely thou wilt fulfil thy word.
And Rustem answered and said, Ay, verily; but I have yet much to do ere that
my mission be ended. For I have still to conquer the King of Mazinderan; but
62                        CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

when these things shall be accomplished, in truth I will fulfil my words unto thee.

Then he bade Aulad follow him, and they retraced their steps until they were
come unto the spot where Kai Kaous was held in bondage. And when Kai Kaous
learned that Rustem was returned with victory upon his brow he shouted for
joy, and all the host shouted with him, and they could not contain themselves
for happiness. And they called down the blessings of Heaven upon the head of
Rustem. But when the hero came before them, he took of the blood of the White
Deev and poured it into their eyes, and the eyes of Kai Kaous and his men were
opened, and they once again beheld the glory of the day. Then they swept the
ground around them with fire, with swords they overcame their gaolers. But
when they had finished, Kai Kaous bade them desist from further bloodshed.

Then Kai Kaous wrote a letter unto the King of Mazinderan, and he coun-
selled him that he should conclude a peace. And he related to him how that
his mainstay was broken, for Rustem had overcome Arzang and slain the White
Deev. And he said that Rustem would slay him also if he should not submit
unto Iran and pay tribute to its Shah. Then Kai Kaous sent a messenger with
this writing unto the King of Mazinderan.

Now the King, when he had read the letter, and learned how that Arzang
and the White Deev and all his train were slain, was sore troubled, and he
paled in his spirit, and it seemed to him that the sun of his glory was about
to set. Howbeit he suffered not the messenger to behold his distress, but wrote
haughty words unto Kai Kaous, and dared him to come forth to meet him.
And he boasted of his might and reproached Kai Kaous with his folly. And he
threatened that he would raze Iran unto the dust.

When Kai Kaous had read this answer he was wroth, and his nobles with him.
And Rustem spake and said
      Permit me, O my Shah, that I go forth before the King of Mazin-
      deran, and intrust unto me yet another writing.
Then Kai Kaous sent for a scribe, and the scribe cut a reed like to the point of an
arrow, and he wrote with it the words that Kai Kaous dictated. And Kai Kaous
made not many words. He bade the King lay aside his arrogance, and he warned
him of the fate that would await his disobedience, and he said unto him that if
he listened not he might hang his severed head on the walls of his own city. Then
he signed the letter with his royal seal, and Rustem bore it forth from the camp.

Now when the King of Mazinderan learned that Kai Kaous sent him yet an-
other messenger, he bade the flower of his army go forth to meet him. And
Rustem, when he saw them come near, laid hold upon a tree of great stature
and spreading branches that grew by the wayside. And he uprooted the tree
from the earth, and brandished it in his hands like to a javelin. And those that
saw it were amazed at his strength. Then Rustem, when he beheld their awe,

flung the tree among them, and many a brave man was dismounted by this
mace. Then there stepped forth from the midst of the host one of the giants
of Mazinderan, and he begged that he might grasp Rustem by the hand. And
when he had hold of the hand of the Pehliva he pressed it with all his might,
for he thought that he could wring off this hand of valour. But Rustem smiled
at the feebleness of his grasp, and he grasped him in return, and the giant grew
pale, and the veins started forth upon his hands.

Then one set off to tell the King what he had seen. And the King sent forth
his doughtiest knight, and bade him retrieve the honour of their strength. And
Kalahour the knight said

     Verily so will I do, and I will force the tears of pain from the eyes of
     this messenger.
And he came towards Rustem and wrung his hand, and his gripe was like to a
vise, and Rustem felt the pang thereof, and he winced in his suffering. But he
would not let the men of Mazinderan glory in his triumph. He took the hand
of Kalahour in his own, and grasped it and crushed it till that the blood issued
from its veins and the nails fell from off its fingers. Then Kalahour turned him
and went before the Shah and showed unto him his hand. And he counselled
him to make peace with the land that could send forth such messengers whose
might none could withstand. But the King was loath to sue for peace, and he
commanded that the messenger be brought before him.

Then the elephant-bodied stood before the King of Mazinderan. And the King
questioned him of his journey, and of Kai Kaous, and of the road that he was
come. And while he questioned he took muster of him with his eyes, and when
he had done speaking he cried

     Surely thou art Rustem, for thou hast the arms and breast of a
But Rustem replied, Not so, I am but a slave who is not held worthy to serve
even in his train; for he is a Pehliva great and strong, whose like the earth hath
not seen. Then he handed unto the King the writing of his master. But when
the King had read it he was wild with anger, and he said to Rustem
     Surely he that hath sent thee is mad that he addresseth such words
     unto me. For if he be master in Iran, I am lord of Mazinderan,
     and never shall he call me his vassal. And verily it was his own
     overweening that let him fall between my hands, yet hath he learned
     no lesson from his disasters, but deemeth he can crush me with
     haughty words. Go, say unto him that the King of Mazinderan will
     meet him in battle, and verily his pride shall learn to know humility.
And when the King had thus spoken he dismissed Rustem from his presence,
but he would have had him bear forth rich gifts. But Rustem would not take
64                       CHAPTER 6. THE MARCH INTO MAZINDERAN

them, for he too was angered, and he spurred him unto Kai Kaous with a heart
hungry for vengeance.

And Kai Kaous made ready his army, and the King of Mazinderan did like-
wise. And they marched forth unto the meeting-place, and the earth groaned
under the feet of the war-elephants. And for seven days did the battle rage
fast and furious, and all the earth was darkened with the black dust; and the
fire of swords and maces flashed through the blackness like to lightning from a
thundercloud. And the screams of the Deevs, and the shouts of the warriors,
and the clanging of the trumpets, and the beating of drums, and the neighing
of horses, and the groans of the dying made the earth hideous with noise. And
the blood of the brave turned the plain into a lake, and it was a combat such as
none hath seen the like. But victory leaned to neither side. Then on the eighth
day Kai Kaous took from his head the crown of the Kaianides and bowed him
in the dust before Ormuzd. And he prayed and said

     O Lord of earth, incline thine ear unto my voice, and grant that I
     may overcome these Deevs who rest not their faith in Thee. And I
     pray Thee do this not for my sake, who am unworthy of Thy benefits,
     but for the sake of Iran, Thy kingdom.

Then he put the crown once more upon his head, and went out again before the

And all that day the hosts fought like lions, and pity and mercy were van-
ished from the world, and heaven itself seemed to rain maces. But Ormuzd
had heard the prayer of His servant, and when evening was come the army
of Mazinderan was faded like a flower. Then Rustem, perceiving the King of
Mazinderan, challenged him to single combat. And the King consented, and
Rustem overcame him, and raised his lance to strike him, saying

     Perish, O evil Deev! for thy name is struck out of the lists of those
     who carry high their heads.

But when he was about to strike him, the King put forth his arts of magic,
and he was changed into a rock within sight of all the army. And Rustem was
confounded thereat, and he knew not what he should do. But Kai Kaous com-
manded that the rock should be brought before his throne. So those among
the army who were strong of limb meshed it with cords and tried to raise it
from the earth. But the rock resisted all their efforts and none could move it a
jot. Then Rustem, the elephant-limbed, came forward to test his power, and he
grasped the rock in his mighty fist, and he bore it in his hands across the hills,
even unto the spot that Kai Kaous had named, and all the army shouted with
amazement when they saw it.

Now when Rustem had laid down the stone at the feet of the Shah, he spake
and said unto it

     Issue forth, I command thee, O King of Mazinderan, or I will break
     thee into atoms with my mace.
When the King heard this threat he was afraid, and came out of the stone, and
stood before Rustem in all his vileness. And Rustem took his hand and smiled
and led him before Kai Kaous, and said

     I bring thee this piece of rock, whom fear of my blows hath brought
     into subjection.
Then Kai Kaous reproached the King with all the evil he had done him, and
when he had spoken he bade that the head of this wicked man should be severed
from its trunk. And it was done as Kai Kaous commanded. Then Kai Kaous
gave thanks unto God, and distributed rich gifts unto his army, to each man
according to his deserts. And he prepared a feast, and bade them rejoice and
make merry with wine. And at last he called before him Rustem, his Pehliva,
and gave to him thanks, and said that but for his aid he would not have sat
again upon his throne. But Rustem said

     Not so, O King, thy thanks are due unto Aulad, for he it was who
     led me aright, and instructed me how I could vanquish the Deevs.
     Grant, therefore, now that I may fulfil my promise unto him, and
     bestow on him the crown of Mazinderan.
When Kai Kaous heard these words he did as Rustem desired, and Aulad re-
ceived the crown and the land, and there was peace yet again in Iran. And the
land rejoiced thereat, and Kai Kaous opened the doors of his treasures, and all
was well within his borders. Then Rustem came before the Shah and prayed
that he might be permitted to return unto his father. And Kai Kaous listened
to the just desires of his Pehliva, and he sent him forth laden with rich gifts,
and he could not cease from pouring treasure before him. And he blessed him,
and said
     Mayst thou live as long as the sun and moon, and may thy heart
     continue steadfast, mayst thou ever be the joy of Iran!
Then when Rustem was departed, Kai Kaous gave himself up unto delights and
to wine, but he governed his land right gloriously. He struck the neck of care
with the sword of justice, he caused the earth to be clad with verdure, and God
granted unto him His countenance, and the hand of Ahriman could do no hurt.

Thus endeth the history of the march into Mazinderan.
Chapter 7


W          HILOM the fancy seized upon the Shah of Iran that he would visit
his empire, and look face to face upon his vassals, and exact their tribute. So
he passed from Turan into China, and from Mikran into Berberistan. And
wheresoever he passed men did homage before him, for the bull cannot wage
battle with the lion. But it could not remain thus for ever, and already there
sprang forth thorns in the garden of roses. For while the fortunes of the world
thus prospered, a chieftain raised the standard of revolt in Egypt, and the people
of the land turned them from the gates of submission unto Iran. And there was
joined unto them the King of Hamaveran, who desired to throw off the yoke of
Persia. But Kai Kaous, when the tidings thereof came unto him, got ready his
army and marched against the rebels. And when he came before them, their
army, that had seemed invincible, was routed, and the King of Hamaveran was
foremost to lay down his arms and ask pardon of his Shah. And Kai Kaous
granted his petition, and the King departed joyously from out his presence.
Then one of those who stood about the Shah said unto him
     Is it known to thee, O Shah, that this King hideth behind his curtains
     a daughter of beauty? It would beseem my lord that he should take
     this moon unto himself for wife.
And Kai Kaous answered, Thy counsel is good, and I will therefore send mes-
sengers unto her father, and demand of him that he give me his daughter as
tribute, and to cement the peace that hath been made between us.

When the King of Hamaveran heard this message his heart was filled with


gall, and his head was heavy with sorrow, and he murmured in his spirit that
Kai Kaous, who owned the world, should desire to take from him his chiefest
treasure. And he hid not his grief from the Shah in his answer, but he wrote
also that he knew it behoved him to do the thing that Kai Kaous desired. Then
in his distress he called before him Sudaveh his daughter, whom he loved, and
he told her all his troubles, and bade her counsel him how he should act. For
he said
     If I lose thee, the light of my life is gone out. Yet how may I stand
     against the Shah?
And Sudaveh replied, If there be no remedy, I counsel thee to rejoice at that
which cannot be changed.

Now when her father heard these words he knew that she was not afflicted
concerning that which was come about. So he sent for the envoy of Kai Kaous
and assented unto his demands, and they concluded an alliance according to the
forms of the land. Then when the King had poured gifts before the messenger,
and feasted him with wine, he sent forth an escort to bear his daughter unto
the tents of the Shah. And the young moon went forth in a litter, and she was
robed in garbs of splendour, and when Kai Kaous beheld her loveliness he was
struck dumb for very joy. Then he raised Sudaveh unto the throne beside him,
and named her worthy to be his spouse. And they were glad in each other, and
rejoiced; but all was not to be well thus quickly.

For the King of Hamaveran was sore in his heart that the light of his life was
gone from him, and he cast about in his spirit how he should regain her unto
himself. And when she had been gone but seven days, he sent forth a messenger
unto Kai Kaous and entreated him that he would come and feast within his
gates, so that all the land might rejoice in their alliance.

When Sudaveh heard this message her mind misgave her, and she feared evil.
Wherefore she counselled the Shah that he should abstain from this feast. But
Kai Kaous would not listen unto the fears of Sudaveh, he would not give ear
unto her warning. Wherefore he went forth unto the city of the King of Hamav-
eran, and made merry with him many days. And the King caused gifts to be
rained down upon Kai Kaous, and he flattered him, and cozened his vanity, and
he made much of his men, and he darkened their wits with fair words and sweet
wine. Then when he had lulled their fears, and caused them to forget wherefore
and why and all knowledge of misfortune, he fell upon them and bound them
with strong chains, and overthrew their glories and their thrones. And Kai
Kaous did he send unto a fortress whose head touched the sky and whose foot
was planted in the ocean. Then he sent forth a strong band into the camp of
Iran, and veiled women went with them, and he charged them that they bring
back Sudaveh unto his arms.

Now when Sudaveh saw the men and the women that went with them she

guessed what was come about, and she cried aloud and tore her robes in an-
guish. And when they had brought her before her father she reproved him for
his treachery, and she sware that none should part her from Kai Kaous, even
though he were hidden in a tomb. Then the King was angered when he saw that
her heart was taken from him and given to the Shah, and he bade that she be
flung into the same prison as her lord. And Sudaveh was glad at his resolve, and
she went into the dungeon with a light heart, and she seated herself beside the
Shah, and served him and comforted him, and they bore the weight of captivity

After these things were come about, the Iranians, because that their Shah was
held captive, returned unto Iran much discomfited. And when the news spread
that the throne was empty many would have seized thereon. And Afrasiyab,
when he learned it, straightway forgot hunger and sleep, and marched a strong
army across the border. And he laid waste the land of Iran, and men, women,
and children fell into bondage at his hands, and the world was darkened unto
the kingdom of light. Then some arose and went before the son of Zal to crave
his help in this sore need, saying unto him
     Be thou our shield against misfortune, and deliver us from affliction,
     for the glory of the Kaianides is vanished, and the land which was a
     paradise is one no more.
Now Rustem, when he heard the news, was grieved for the land, but he was
angered also against the Shah that he had thus once again run into danger. Yet
he told the messengers that he would seek to deliver Kai Kaous, and that when
he had done so he would remember the land of Iran. And forthwith he sent a
secret messenger unto Kai Kaous, a man subtle and wise, and caused him to
say unto the Shah

     An army cometh forth from Iran to redeem thee. Rejoice, therefore,
     and cast aside thy fears.
And he also sent a writing unto the King of Hamaveran, and the writing was
filled with threats, and spake only of maces and swords and combat. And
Rustem loaded the King with reproaches because of his treachery, and he bade
him prepare to meet Rustem the mighty.

When the King of Hamaveran had read this letter his head was troubled, and he
defied Rustem, and threatened him that if he came forth against him he should
meet at his hands the fate of the Shah. But Rustem only smiled when he heard
this answer, and he said

     Surely this man is foolish, or Ahriman hath filled his mind with
Then he mounted Rakush, and made ready to go into Hamaveran, and a vast
train of warriors went after him. And the King of Hamaveran, when he saw it

sent forth his army against him. But the army were afraid when they beheld
Rustem and his might of mien, his mace, and his strong arms and lion chest,
and their hearts departed from out their bodies, and they fled from before his
sight, and returned them unto the King of Hamaveran.

Now the King was seated in the midst of his counsellors, and when he saw
the army thus scattered before they had struck a blow, his heart misgave him,
and he craved counsel of his chiefs. Then they counselled him that he should
cast about him for allies. So the King of Hamaveran sent messengers of entreaty
unto the Kings of Egypt and Berberistan, and they listened to his prayers, and
sent out a great army unto his aid. And they drew them up against Rustem,
and the armies stretched for two leagues in length, and you would have said
the handful of Rustem could not withstand their force. Yet Rustem bade his
men be not discomfited, and rest their hopes on God. Then he fell upon the
armies of the Kings like to a flame that darteth forth, and the ground was
drenched with gore, and on all sides rolled heads that were severed from their
bodies; and wheresoever Rakush and Rustem showed themselves, there was
great havoc made in the ranks. And ere the evening was come, the Kings of
Egypt and Berberistan were his captives; and when the sun was set, the King
of Hamaveran knew that a day of ill fortune was ended. So he sent forth to
crave mercy at the hands of the Pehliva. And Rustem listened to his voice, and
said that he would stay his hand if the King would restore unto him Kai Kaous,
and the men and treasures that were his. Then the King of Hamaveran granted
the just requests of Rustem. So Kai Kaous was led forth from his prison, and
Sudaveh came with him. And when they beheld him, the King of Hamaveran
and his allies declared their allegiance unto him, and they marched with him
into Iran to go out against Afrasiyab. And Sudaveh went with the army in a
litter clothed with fair stuffs, and encrusted with wood of aloes. And she was
veiled that none might behold her beauty, and she went with the men like to
the sun when he marcheth behind a cloud.

Now when Kai Kaous was come home again unto his land, he sent a writing
unto Afrasiyab. And he said
     Quit, I command thee, the land of Iran, nor seek to enlarge thyself
     at my cost. For knowest thou not that Iran is mine, and that the
     world pertaineth unto me?
But Afrasiyab answered, The words which thou dost write are not becoming
unto a man such as thou, who didst covet Mazinderan and the countries round
about. If thou wert satisfied with Iran, wherefore didst thou venture afield?
And I say unto thee, Iran is mine, because of Tur my forefather, and because I
subdued it under my hand.

When Kai Kaous had heard these words he knew that Afrasiyab would not
yield save unto force. So he drew up his army into array, and they marched out
to meet the King of Turan. And Afrasiyab met them with a great host, and the

sound of drums and cymbals filled the air. And great was the strife and bloody,
but Rustem broke the force of Turan, and the fortunes of its army were laid to
rest upon the field of battle. And Afrasiyab, when he beheld it, was discomfited,
and his spirit boiled over like to new wine that fermenteth. And he mourned
over his army and the warriors that he had trained, and he conjured those that
remained to make yet another onslaught, and he spake fair promises unto them
if they would deliver unto his hands Rustem, the Pehliva. And he said
     Whoever shall bring him alive before me, I will give unto him a
     kingdom and an umbrella, and the hand of my daughter in marriage.
And the Turks, when they heard these words, girded them yet again for resis-
tance. But it availed them nought, for the Iranians were mightier than they,
and they watered the earth with their blood until the ground was like a rose.
And the fortunes of the Turks were as a light put out, and Afrasiyab fled before
the face of Rustem, and the remnant of his army went after him.

Then Kai Kaous seated himself once more upon his throne, and men were glad
that there was peace. And the Shah opened the doors of justice and splendour,
and all men did that which was right, and the wolf turned him away from the
lamb, and there was gladness through all the length of Iran. And the Shah gave
thanks unto Rustem that he had aided him yet again, and he named him Jahani
Pehliva, which being interpreted meaneth the champion of the world, and he
called him the source of his happiness. Then he busied himself with building
mighty towers and palaces, and the land of Iran was made fair at his hands, and
all was well once more within its midst.

But Ahriman the wakeful was not pleased thereat, and he pondered how he
could once again arouse the ambition of the Shah. So he held counsel with his
Deevs how they might turn the heart of Kai Kaous from the right path. And
one among them said
     Suffer that I go before the Shah, and I will do thy behest.
And Ahriman suffered it. Then the Deev took upon him the form of a youth,
and in his hand he held a cluster of roses, and he presented them unto the Shah,
and he kissed the ground before his feet. And when Kai Kaous had given him
leave to speak he opened his mouth and said
     O Shah, live for ever! though such is thy might and majesty that
     the vault of heaven alone should be thy throne. All the world is
     submissive before thee, and I can bethink me but of one thing that
     is lacking unto thy glory.
Then Kai Kaous questioned him of this one thing, and the Deev said
     It is that thou knowest not the nature of the sun and moon, nor
     wherefore the planets roll, neither the secret causes that set them in
     motion. Thou art master of all the earth, therefore shouldst thou
     not make the heavens also obedient to thy will?

When Kai Kaous heard these words of guile his mind was dimmed, and he forgot
that man cannot mount unto the skies, and he pondered without ceasing how he
could fly unto the stars and inquire into their secrets. And he consulted many
wise men in his trouble, but none could aid him. But at last it came about
that a certain man taught him how he could perchance accomplish his designs.
And Kai Kaous did according to his instructions. He built him a framework
of aloe-wood, and at the four corners thereof he placed javelins upright, and
on their points he put the flesh of goats. Then he chose out four eagles strong
of wing, and bound them unto the corners of this chariot. And when it was
done, Kai Kaous seated himself in the midst thereof with much pomp. And the
eagles, when they smelt the flesh, desired after it, and they flapped their wings
and raised themselves, and raised the framework with them. And they struggled
sore, but they could not attain unto the meat; but ever as they struggled they
bore aloft with them Kai Kaous and the throne whereon he sat. And so long
as their hunger lasted, they strove after the prey. But at length their strength
would hold no longer, and they desisted from the attempt. And behold! as
they desisted the fabric fell back to earth, and the shock thereof was great. And
but for Ormuzd Kai Kaous would have perished in the presumption of his spirit.

Now the eagles had borne the Shah even unto the desert of Cathay, and there
was no man to succour him, and he suffered from the pangs of hunger, and there
was nothing to assuage his longing, neither could his thirst be stilled. And he
was alone, and sorrowful and shamed in his soul that he had yet again brought
derision upon Iran. And he prayed to God in his trouble, and entreated pardon
for his sins.

While Kai Kaous thus strove with repentance, Rustem learned tidings of him,
and he set out with an army to seek him. And when he had found him he gave
rein unto his anger, and he rebuked him for his follies, and he said
     Hath the world seen the like of this man? Hath a more foolish
     head sat upon the throne of Iran? Ye would say there were no
     brains within this skull, or that not one of its thoughts was good.
     Kai Kaous is like a thing that is possessed, and every wind beareth
     him away. Thrice hast thou now fallen into mishap, and who can
     tell whether thy spirit hath yet learned wisdom? And it will be a
     reproach unto Iran all her days that a king puffed up with idle pride
     was seated upon her throne, a man who deemed in his folly that
     he could mount unto the skies, and visit the sun and moon, and
     count the stars one by one. I entreat of thee to bethink thee of thy
     forefathers, and follow in their steps, and rule the land in equity,
     neither rush after these mad adventures.
When Kai Kaous had listened to the bitter words spoken by Rustem, he was
bowed down in his spirit and ashamed before him in his soul. And when at
last he opened his mouth it was to utter words of humility. And he said unto

     Surely that which thou speakest, it is true.
Then he suffered himself to be led back unto his palace, and many days and
nights did he lie in the dust before God, and it was long before he held him
worthy to mount again upon his throne. But when he deemed that God had
forgiven him, he seated him upon it once again. In humility did he mount it,
and he filled it in wisdom. And henceforth he ruled the land with justice, and
he did that which was right in the sight of God, and bathed his face with the
waters of sincerity. And kings and rulers did homage before him, and forgot
the follies that he had done, and Kai Kaous grew worthy of the throne of light.
And Iran was exalted at his hands, and power and prosperity increased within
its borders.
Chapter 8


G         IVE ear unto the combat of Sohrab against Rustem, though it be a
tale replete with tears.

It came about that on a certain day Rustem arose from his couch, and his
mind was filled with forebodings. He bethought him therefore to go out to the
chase. So he saddled Rakush and made ready his quiver with arrows. Then
he turned him unto the wilds that lie near Turan, even in the direction of the
city of Samengan. And when he was come nigh unto it, he started a herd of
asses and made sport among them till that he was weary of the hunt. Then
he caught one and slew it and roasted it for his meal, and when he had eaten
it and broken the bones for the marrow, he laid himself down to slumber, and
Rakush cropped the pasture beside him.

Now while the hero was sleeping there passed by seven knights of Turan, and
they beheld Rakush and coveted him. So they threw their cords at him to
ensnare him. But Rakush, when he beheld their design, pawed the ground in
anger, and fell upon them as he had fallen upon the lion. And of one man he bit
off the head, and another he struck down under his hoofs, and he would have
overcome them all, but they were too many. So they ensnared him and led him
into the city, thinking in their hearts, Verily a goodly capture have we made.
But Rustem when he awoke from his slumbers was downcast and sore grieved
when he saw not his steed, and he said unto himself
     How can I stand against the Turks, and how can I traverse the desert
And his heart was full of trouble. Then he sought for the traces of the horses
hoofs, and he followed them, and they led him even unto the gates of the city.
Now when those within beheld Rustem, and that he came before them on foot,
the King and the nobles came forth to greet him, and inquired of him how this

76                                    CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

was come about. Then Rustem told them how Rakush was vanished while he
slumbered, and how he had followed his track even unto these gates. And he
sware a great oath, and vowed that if his courser were not restored unto him
many heads should quit their trunks. Then the King of Samengan, when he saw
that Rustem was beside himself with anger, spoke words of soothing, and said
that none of his people should do wrong unto the hero; and he begged him that
he would enter into his house and abide with him until that search had been
made, saying

     Surely Rakush cannot be hid.

And Rustem was satisfied at these words, and cast suspicion from his spirit,
and entered the house of the King, and feasted with him, and beguiled the
hours with wine. And the King rejoiced in his guest, and encompassed him
with sweet singers and all honour. And when the night was fallen the King
himself led Rustem unto a couch perfumed with musk and roses, and he bade
him slumber sweetly until the morning. And he declared to him yet again that
all was well for him and for his steed.

Now when a portion of the night was spent, and the star of morning stood
high in the arch of heaven, the door of Rustems chamber was opened, and a
murmur of soft voices came in from the threshold. And there stepped within
a slave bearing a lamp perfumed with amber, and a woman whose beauty was
veiled came after her. And as she moved musk was scattered from her robes.
And the women came nigh unto the bed of the hero heavy with wine and slum-
ber. And he was amazed when he saw them. And when he had roused him
somewhat he spake and said

     Who art thou, and what is thy name and thy desire, and what seekest
     thou from me in the dark night?

Then the Peri-faced answered him, saying, I am Tahmineh, the daughter of
the King of Samengan, of the race of the leopard and the lion, and none of
the princes of this earth are worthy of my hand, neither hath any man seen
me unveiled. But my heart is torn with anguish, and my spirit is tossed with
desire, for I have heard of thy deeds of prowess, and how thou fearest neither
Deev nor lion, neither leopard nor crocodile, and how thy hand is swift to strike,
and how thou didst venture alone into Mazinderan, and how wild asses are de-
voured of thee, and how the earth groaneth under the tread of thy feet, and how
men perish at thy blows, and how even the eagle dareth not swoop down upon
her prey when she beholdeth thy sword. These things and more have they told
unto me, and mine eyes have yearned to look upon thy face. And now hath God
brought thee within the gates of my father, and I am come to say unto thee that
I am thine if thou wilt hear me, and if thou wilt not, none other will I espouse.
And consider, O Pehliva, how that love hath obscured mine understanding and
withdrawn me from the bosom of discretion, yet peradventure God will grant
unto me a son like to thee for strength and valour, to whom shall be given

the empire of the world. And if thou wilt listen unto me, I will lead forth be-
fore thee Rakush thy steed, and I will place under thy feet the land of Samengan.

Now while this moon of beauty was yet speaking, Rustem regarded her. And he
saw that she was fair, and that wisdom abode in her mind; and when he heard
of Rakush, his spirit was decided within him, and he held that this adventure
could not end save gloriously. So he sent a Mubid unto the King and demanded
the hand of Tahmineh from her father. And the King, when he heard the news,
was rejoiced, and gave his daughter unto the Pehliva, and they concluded an
alliance according to custom and the rites. And all men, young and old, within
the house and city of the King were glad at this alliance, and called down bless-
ings upon Rustem.

Now Rustem, when he was alone with the Peri-faced, took from his arm an
onyx that was known unto all the world. And he gave it to her, and said
     Cherish this jewel, and if Heaven cause thee to give birth unto a
     daughter, fasten it within her locks, and it will shield her from evil;
     but if it be granted unto thee to bring forth a son, fasten it upon
     his arm, that he may wear it like his father. And he shall be strong
     as Keriman, of stature like unto Saum the son of Neriman, and of
     grace of speech like unto Zal, my father.
The Peri-faced, when she had heard these words, was glad in his presence. But
when the day was passed there came in unto them the King her father, and he
told Rustem how that tidings of Rakush were come unto his ears, and how that
the courser would shortly be within the gates. And Rustem, when he heard it,
was filled with longing after his steed, and when he knew that he was come he
hastened forth to caress him. And with his own hands he fastened the saddle,
and gave thanks unto Ormuzd, who had restored his joy between his hands.
Then he knew that the time to depart was come. And he opened his arms and
took unto his heart Tahmineh the fair of face, and he bathed her cheek with
his tears and covered her hair with kisses. Then he flung him upon Rakush,
and the swift-footed bare him quickly from out of her sight. And Tahmineh was
sorrowful exceedingly, and Rustem too was filled with thoughts as he turned
him back into Zaboulistan. And he pondered this adventure in his heart, but
to no man did he speak of what he had seen or done.

Now when nine moons had run their course there was born unto Tahmineh
a son in the likeness of his father, a babe whose mouth was filled with smiles,
wherefore men called him Sohrab. And when he numbered but one month he
was like unto a child of twelve, and when he numbered five years he was skilled
in arms and all the arts of war, and when ten years were rolled above his head
there was none in the land that could resist him in the games of strength. Then
he came before his mother and spake words of daring. And he said
     Since I am taller and stouter than my peers, teach unto me my race
     and lineage, and what I shall say when men ask me the name of my
78                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

     sire. But if thou refuse an answer unto my demands, I will strike
     thee out from the rolls of the living.

When Tahmineh beheld the ardour of her son, she smiled in her spirit because
that his fire was like to that of his father. And she opened her mouth and said

     Hear my words, O my son, and be glad in thine heart, neither give
     way in thy spirit to anger. For thou art the offspring of Rustem,
     thou art descended from the seed of Saum and Zal, and Neriman
     was thy forefather. And since God made the world it hath held
     none like unto Rustem, thy sire.

Then she showed to him a letter written by the Pehliva, and gave to him the
gold and jewels Rustem had sent at his birth. And she spake and said

     Cherish these gifts with gratitude, for it is thy father who hath sent
     them. Yet remember, O my son, that thou close thy lips concerning
     these things; for Turan groaneth under the hand of Afrasiyab, and
     he is foe unto Rustem the glorious. If, therefore, he should learn
     of thee, he would seek to destroy the son for hatred of the sire.
     Moreover, O my boy, if Rustem learned that thou wert become a
     mountain of valour, perchance he would demand thee at my hands,
     and the sorrow of thy loss would crush the heart of thy mother.

But Sohrab replied, Nought can be hidden upon earth for aye. To all men are
known the deeds of Rustem, and since my birth be thus noble, wherefore hast
thou kept it dark from me so long? I will go forth with an army of brave Turks
and lead them unto Iran, I will cast Kai Kaous from off his throne, I will give
to Rustem the crown of the Kaianides, and together we will subdue the land
of Turan, and Afrasiyab shall be slain by my hands. Then will I mount the
throne in his stead. But thou shalt be called Queen of Iran. for since Rustem
is my father and I am his son no other kings shall rule in this world, for to us
alone behoveth it to wear the crowns of might. And I pant in longing after the
battlefield, and I desire that the world should behold my prowess. But a horse
is needful unto me, a steed tall and strong of power to bear me, for it beseemeth
me not to go on foot before mine enemies.

Now Tahmineh, when she had heard the words of this boy, rejoiced in her
soul at his courage. So she bade the guardians of the flocks lead out the horses
before Sohrab her son. And they did as she had bidden, and Sohrab surveyed
the steeds, and tested their strength like as his father had done before him of
old, and he bowed them under his hand, and he could not be satisfied. And
thus for many days did he seek a worthy steed. Then one came before him and
told of a foal sprung from Rakush, the swift of foot. When Sohrab heard the
tidings he smiled, and bade that the foal be led before him. And he tested it
and found it to be strong. So he saddled it and sprang upon its back and cried,

     Now that I own a horse like thee, the world shall be made dark to
Then he made ready for war against Iran, and the nobles and warriors flocked
around him. And when all was in order Sohrab came before his grandsire and
craved his counsel and his aid to go forth into the land of Iran and seek out his
father. And the King of Samengan, when he heard these wishes, deemed them
to be just, and he opened the doors of his treasures without stint and gave unto
Sohrab of his wealth, for he was filled with pleasure at this boy. And he invested
Sohrab with all the honours of a King, and he bestowed on him all the marks
of his good pleasure.

Meantime a certain man brought news unto Afrasiyab that Sohrab was making
ready an army to fall upon Iran, and to cast Kai Kaous from off his throne. And
he told Afrasiyab how the courage and valour of Sohrab exceeded words. And
Afrasiyab, when he heard this, hid not his contentment, and he called before
him Human and Barman, the doughty. Then he bade them gather together an
army and join the ranks of Sohrab, and he confided to them his secret purpose,
but he enjoined them to tell no man thereof. For he said
     Into our hands hath it been given to settle the course of the world.
     For it is known unto me that Sohrab is sprung from Rustem the
     Pehliva, but from Rustem must it be hidden who it is that goeth
     out against him, then peradventure he will perish by the hands of
     this young lion, and Iran, devoid of Rustem, will fall a prey into
     my hands. Then will we subdue Sohrab also, and all the world will
     be ours. But if it be written that Sohrab fall under the hand of
     Tehemten, then the grief he shall endure when he shall learn that he
     hath slain his son will bring him to the grave for sorrow.

So spake Afrasiyab in his guile, and when he had done unveiling his black heart
he bade the warriors depart unto Samengan. And they bare with them gifts of
great price to pour before the face of Sohrab. And they bare also a letter filled
with soft words. And in the letter Afrasiyab lauded Sohrab for his resolve, and
told him how that if Iran be subdued the world would henceforth know peace,
for upon his own head would he place the crown of the Kaianides; and Turan,
Iran, and Samengan should be as one land.

When Sohrab had read this letter, and saw the gifts and the aid sent out to
him, he rejoiced aloud, for he deemed that now none could withstand his might.
So he caused the cymbals of departure to be clashed, and the army made them
ready to go forth. Then Sohrab led them into the land of Iran. And their track
was marked by desolation and destruction, for they spared nothing that they
passed. And they spread fire and dismay abroad, and they marched on unstayed
until they came unto the White Castle, the fortress wherein Iran put its trust.

Now the guardian of the castle was named Hujir, and there lived with him
80                                    CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

Gustahem the brave, but he was grown old, and could aid no longer save with
his counsels. And there abode also his daughter Gurdafrid, a warlike maid, firm
in the saddle, and practised in the fight. Now when Hujir beheld from afar a
dusky cloud of armed men he came forth to meet them. And Sohrab, when
he saw him, drew his sword, and demanded his name, and bade him prepare
to meet his end. And he taunted him with rashness that he was come forth
thus unaided to stand against a lion. But Hujir answered Sohrab with taunts
again, and vowed that he would sever his head from his trunk and send it for
a trophy unto the Shah. Yet Sohrab only smiled when he heard these words,
and he challenged Hujir to come near. And they met in combat, and wrestled
sore one with another, and stalwart were their strokes and strong; but Sohrab
overcame Hujir as though he were an infant, and he bound him and sent him
captive unto Human.

But when those within the castle learned that their chief was bound they raised
great lamentation, and their fears were sore. And Gurdafrid too, when she
learned it, was grieved, but she was ashamed also for the fate of Hujir. So she
took forth burnished mail and clad herself therein, and she hid her tresses under
a helmet of Roum, and she mounted a steed of battle and came forth before the
walls like to a warrior. And she uttered a cry of thunder, and flung it amid the
ranks of Turan, and she defied the champions to come forth to single combat.
And none came, for they beheld her how she was strong, and they knew not that
it was a woman, and they were afraid. But Sohrab, when he saw it, stepped
forth and said

     I will accept thy challenge, and a second prize will fall into my hands.

Then he girded himself and made ready for the fight. And the maid, when she
saw he was ready, rained arrows upon him with art, and they fell quick like
hail, and whizzed about his head; and Sohrab, when he saw it, could not defend
himself, and was angry and ashamed. Then he covered his head with a shield
and ran at the maid. But she, when she saw him approach, dropped her bow
and couched a lance, and thrust at Sohrab with vigour, and shook him mightily,
and it wanted little and she would have thrown him from his seat. And Sohrab
was amazed, and his wrath knew no bounds. Then he ran at Gurdafrid with
fury, and seized the reins of her steed, and caught her by the waist, and tore
her armour, and threw her upon the ground. Yet ere he could raise his hand
to strike her, she drew her sword and shivered his lance in twain, and leaped
again upon her steed. And when she saw that the day was hers, she was weary
of further combat, and she sped back unto the fortress. But Sohrab gave rein
unto his horse, and followed after her in his great anger. And he caught her,
and seized her, and tore the helmet from off her head, for he desired to look
upon the face of the man who could withstand the son of Rustem. And lo!
when he had done so, there rolled forth from the helmet coils of dusky hue, and
Sohrab beheld it was a woman that had overcome him in the fight. And he was
confounded. But when he had found speech he said

     If the daughters of Iran are like to thee, and go forth unto battle,
     none can stand against this land.

Then he took his cord and threw it about her, and bound her in its snare, saying

     Seek not to escape me, O moon of beauty, for never hath prey like
     unto thee fallen between my hands.

Then Gurdafrid, full of wile, turned unto him her face that was unveiled, for
she beheld no other means of safety, and she said unto him

     O hero without flaw, is it well that thou shouldest seek to make
     me captive, and show me unto the army? For they have beheld
     our combat, and that I overcame thee, and surely now they will
     gibe when they learn that thy strength was withstood by a woman.
     Better would it beseem thee to hide this adventure, lest thy cheeks
     have cause to blush because of me. Therefore let us conclude a peace
     together. The castle shall be thine, and all it holds; follow after me
     then, and take possession of thine own.

Now Sohrab, when he had listened, was beguiled by her words and her beauty,
and he said

     Thou dost wisely to make peace with me, for verily these walls could
     not resist my might.

And he followed after her unto the heights of the castle, and he stood with her
before its gates. And Gustahem, when he saw them, opened the portal, and
Gurdafrid stepped within the threshold, but when Sohrab would have followed
after her she shut the door upon him. Then Sohrab saw that she had befooled
him, and his fury knew no bounds. But ere he was recovered from his surprise
she came out upon the battlements and scoffed at him, and counselled him to go
back whence he was come; for surely, since he could not stand against a woman,
he would fall an easy prey before Rustem, when the Pehliva should have learned
that robbers from Turan were broken into the land. And Sohrab was made yet
madder for her words, and he departed from the walls in his wrath, and rode
far in his anger, and spread terror in his path. And he vowed that he would yet
bring the maid into subjection.

In the meantime Gustahem the aged called before him a scribe, and bade him
write unto Kai Kaous all that was come about, and how an army was come
forth from Turan, at whose head rode a chief that was a child in years, a lion
in strength and stature. And he told how Hujir had been bound, and how the
fortress was like to fall into the hands of the enemy; for there were none to
defend it save only his daughter and himself and he craved the Shah to come to
their aid.

Albeit when the day had followed yet again upon the night, Sohrab made ready
82                                    CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

his host to fall upon the castle. But when he came near thereto he found it was
empty, and the doors thereof stood open, and no warriors appeared upon its
walls. And he was surprised, for he knew not that in the darkness the inmates
were fled by a passage that was hidden under the earth. And he searched the
building for Gurdafrid, for his heart yearned after her in love, and he cried aloud
      Woe, woe is me that this moon is vanished behind the clouds!
Now when Kai Kaous had gotten the writing of Gustahem, he was sore afflicted
and much afraid, and he called about him his nobles and asked their counsels.
And he said
      Who shall stand against this Turk? For Gustahem doth liken him in
      power unto Rustem, and saith he resembleth the seed of Neriman.
Then the warriors cried with one accord, Unto Rustem alone can we look in this

And Kai Kaous hearkened to their voice, and he called for a scribe and dictated
unto him a letter. And he wrote unto his Pehliva, and invoked the blessings
of Heaven upon his head, and he told him all that was come to pass, and how
new dangers threatened Iran, and how to Rustem alone could he look for help
in his trouble. And he recalled unto Tehemten all that he had done for him in
the days that were gone by, and he entreated him once again to be his refuge.
And he said
      When thou shalt receive this letter, stay not to speak the word that
      hangeth upon thy lips; and if thou bearest roses in thy hands, stop
      not to smell them, but haste thee to help us in our need.
Then Kai Kaous sent forth Gew with this writing unto Zaboulistan, and bade
him neither rest nor tarry until he should stand before the face of Rustem. And
he said
      When thou hast done my behest, turn thee again unto me; neither
      abide within the courts of the Pehliva, nor linger by the roadside.
And Gew did as the Shah commanded, and took neither food nor rest till he set
foot within the gates of Rustem. And Rustem greeted him kindly, and asked
him of his mission; and when he had read the writing of the Shah, he questioned
Gew concerning Sohrab. For he said
      I should not marvel if such an hero arose in Iran, but that a warrior
      of renown should come forth from amid the Turks, I cannot believe
      it. But thou sayest none knoweth whence cometh this knight. I have
      myself a son in Samengan, but he is yet an infant, and his mother
      writeth to me that he rejoiceth in the sports of his age, and though
      he be like to become a hero among men, his time is not yet come
      to lead forth an army. And that which thou sayest hath been done,
      surely it is not the work of a babe. But enter, I pray thee, into my
      house, and we will confer together concerning this adventure.

Then Rustem bade his cooks make ready a banquet, and he feasted Gew, and
troubled his head with wine, and caused him to forget cares and time. But when
morn was come Gew remembered the commands of the Shah that he tarry not,
but return with all speed, and he spake thereof to Rustem, and prayed him to
make known his resolve. But Rustem spake, saying

     Disquiet not thyself, for death will surely fall upon these men of
     Turan. Stay with me yet another day and rest, and water thy lips
     that are parched. For though this Sohrab be a hero like to Saum
     and Zal and Neriman, verily he shall fall by my hands.
And he made ready yet another banquet, and three days they caroused without
ceasing. But on the fourth Gew uprose with resolve, and came before Rustem
girt for departure. And he said
     It behoveth me to return, O Pehliva, for I bethink me how Kai Kaous
     is a man hard and choleric, and the fear of Sohrab weigheth upon
     his heart, and his soul burneth with impatience, and he hath lost
     sleep, and hath hunger and thirst on this account. And he will be
     wroth against us if we delay yet longer to do his behest.
Then Rustem said, Fear not, for none on earth dare be angered with me.

But he did as Gew desired, and made ready his army, and saddled Rakush,
and set forth from Zaboulistan, and a great train followed after him.

Now when they came nigh unto the courts of the Shah, the nobles came forth
to meet them, and do homage before Rustem. And when they were come in
Rustem gat him from Rakush and hastened into the presence of his lord. But
Kai Kaous, when he beheld him, was angry, and spake not, and his brows were
knit with fury; and when Rustem had done obeisance before him, he unlocked
the doors of his mouth, and words of folly escaped his lips. And he said
     Who is Rustem, that he defieth my power and disregardeth my com-
     mands? If I had a sword within my grasp I would split his head like
     to an orange. Seize him, I command, and hang him upon the nearest
     gallows, and let his name be never spoken in my presence.
When he heard these words Gew trembled in his heart, but he said, Dost thou
put forth thy hand against Rustem?

And the Shah when he heard it was beside himself, and he cried with a loud
voice that Gew be hanged together with the other; and he bade Tus lead them
forth. And Tus would have led them out, for he hoped the anger of the Shah
would be appeased; but Rustem broke from his grasp and stood before Kai
Kaous, and all the nobles were filled with fear when they saw his anger. And he
flung reproaches at Kai Kaous, and he recalled to him his follies, and the march
into Mazinderan and Hamaveran, and his flight into Heaven; and he reminded
84                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

him how that but for Rustem he would not now be seated upon the throne of
light. And he bade him threaten Sohrab the Turk with his gallows, and he said
     I am a free man and no slave, and am servant alone unto God; and
     without Rustem Kai Kaous is as nothing. And the world is subject
     unto me, and Rakush is my throne, and my sword is my seal, and
     my helmet my crown. And but for me, who called forth Kai Kobad,
     thine eyes had never looked upon this throne. And had I desired it
     I could have sat upon its seat. But now am I weary of thy follies,
     and I will turn me away from Iran, and when this Turk shall have
     put you under his yoke I shall not learn thereof.

Then he turned him and strode from out the presence-chamber. And he sprang
upon Rakush, who waited without, and he was vanished from before their eyes
ere yet the nobles had rallied from their astonishment. And they were downcast
and oppressed with boding cares, and they held counsel among themselves what
to do; for Rustem was their mainstay, and they knew that, bereft of his arm
and counsel, they could not stand against this Turk. And they blamed Kai
Kaous, and counted over the good deeds that Rustem had done for him, and
they pondered and spake long. And in the end they resolved to send a messenger
unto Kai Kaous, and they chose from their midst Gudarz the aged, and bade him
stand before the Shah. And Gudarz did as they desired, and he spake long and
without fear, and he counted over each deed that had been done by Rustem; and
he reproached the Shah with his ingratitude, and he said how Rustem was the
shepherd, and how the flock could not be led without its leader. And Kai Kaous
heard him unto the end, and he knew that his words were the words of reason
and truth, and he was ashamed of that which he had done, and confounded
when he beheld his acts thus naked before him. And he humbled himself before
Gudarz, and said

     That which thou sayest, surely it is right.
And he entreated Gudarz to go forth and seek Rustem, and bid him forget the
evil words of his Shah, and bring him back to the succour of Iran. And Gudarz
hastened forth to do as Kai Kaous desired, and he told the nobles of his mission
and they joined themselves unto him, and all the chiefs of Iran went forth in
quest of Rustem. And when they had found him, they prostrated themselves
into the dust before him, and Gudarz told him of his mission, and he prayed
him to remember that Kai Kaous was a man devoid of understanding, whose
thoughts flowed over like to new wine that fermenteth. And he said
     Though Rustem be angered against the King, yet hath the land of
     Iran done no wrong that it should perish at his hands. Yet, if Rustem
     save it not, surely it will fall under this Turk.
But Rustem said, My patience hath an end, and I fear none but God. What is
this Kai Kaous that he should anger me? and what am I that I have need of
him? I have not deserved the evil words that he spake unto me, but now will I

think of them no longer, but cast aside all thoughts of Iran.

When the nobles heard these words they grew pale, and fear took hold on
their hearts. But Gudarz, full of wisdom, opened his mouth and said
     O Pehliva! the land, when it shall learn of this, will deem that
     Rustem is fled before the face of this Turk; and when men shall
     believe that Tehemten is afraid, they will cease to combat, and Iran
     will be downtrodden at his hands. Turn thee not, therefore, at this
     hour from thy allegiance to the Shah, and tarnish not thy glory by
     this retreat, neither suffer that the downfall of Iran rest upon thy
     head. Put from thee, therefore, the words that Kai Kaous spake in
     his empty anger, and lead us forth to battle against this Turk. For
     it must not be spoken that Rustem feared to fight a beardless boy.
And Rustem listened and pondered these words in his heart, and knew that
they were good. But he said

     Fear hath never been known of me, neither hath Rustem shunned
     the din of arms, and I depart not because of Sohrab, but because
     that scorn and insult have been my recompense.
Yet when he had pondered a while longer, he saw that he must return unto the
Shah. So he did that which he knew to be right, and he rode till he came unto
the gates of Kai Kaous, and he strode with a proud step into his presence.

Now when the Shah beheld Rustem from afar, he stepped down from off his
throne and came before his Pehliva, and craved his pardon for that which was
come about. And he said how he had been angered because Rustem had tarried
in his coming, and how haste was his birthright, and how he had forgotten him-
self in his vexation. But now was his mouth filled with the dust of repentance.
And Rustem said
     The world is the Shahs, and it behoveth thee to do as beseemeth
     thee best with thy servants. And until old age shall my loins be girt
     in fealty unto thee. And may power and majesty be thine for ever!

And Kai Kaous answered and said, O my Pehliva, may thy days be blessed unto
the end!

Then he invited him to feast with him, and they drank wine till far into the
night, and held counsel together how they should act; and slaves poured rich
gifts before Rustem, and the nobles rejoiced, and all was well again within the
gates of the King.

Then when the sun had risen and clothed the world with love, the clarions
of war were sounded throughout the city, and men made them ready to go forth
in enmity before the Turks. And the legions of Persia came forth at the behest
86                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

of their Shah, and their countless thousands hid the earth under their feet, and
the air was darkened by their spears. And when they were come unto the plains
where stood the fortress of Hujir, they set up their tents as was their manner.
So the watchmen saw them from the battlements, and he set up a great cry.
And Sohrab heard the cry, and questioned the man wherefore he shouted; and
when he learned that the enemy were come, he rejoiced, and demanded a cup of
wine, and drank to their destruction. Then he called forth Human and showed
him the army, and bade him be of good cheer, for he said that he saw within
its ranks no hero of mighty mace who could stand against himself. So he bade
his warriors to a banquet of wine, and he said that they would feast until the
time was come to meet their foes in battle. And they did as Sohrab said.

Now when night had thrown her mantle over the earth, Rustem came before
the Shah and craved that he would suffer him to go forth beyond the camp that
he might see what manner of man was this stripling. And Kai Kaous granted
his request, and said that it was worthy a Pehliva of renown. Then Rustem
went forth disguised in the garb of a Turk, and he entered the castle in secret,
and he came within the chamber where Sohrab held his feast. Now when he
had looked upon the boy he saw that he was like to a tall cypress of good sap,
and that his arms were sinewy and strong like to the flanks of a camel, and
that his stature was that of a hero. And he saw that round about him stood
brave warriors. And slaves with golden bugles poured wine before them, and
they were all glad, neither did they dream of sorrow. Then it came about that
while Rustem regarded them, Zindeh changed his seat and came nigh unto the
spot where Rustem was watching. Now Zindeh was brother unto Tahmineh,
and she had sent him forth with her son that he might point out to him his
father, whom he alone knew of all the army, and she did it that harm might not
befall if the heroes should meet in battle. Now Zindeh, when he had changed his
seat, thought that he espied a watcher, and he strode towards the place where
Rustem was hid, and he came before him and said
     Who art thou? Come forth into the light that I may behold thy face.
But ere he could speak further, Rustem had lifted up his hand and struck him,
and laid him dead upon the ground.

Now Sohrab, when he saw that Zindeh was gone out, was disquieted, and he
asked of his slaves wherefore the hero returned not unto the banquet. So they
went forth to seek him, and when they had found him in his blood, they came
and told Sohrab what they had seen. But Sohrab would not believe it; so he
ran to the spot and bade them bring torches, and all the warriors and singing
girls followed after him. Then when Sohrab saw that it was true he was sore
grieved; but he suffered not that the banquet be ended, for he would not that the
spirits of his men be damped with pity. So they went back yet again to the feast.

Meanwhile Rustem returned him to the camp, and as he would have entered
the lines he encountered Gew, who went around to see that all was safe. And

Gew, when he saw a tall man clad in the garb of a Turk, drew his sword and
held himself ready for combat. But Rustem smiled and opened his mouth, and
Gew knew his voice, and came to him and questioned him what he did without
in the darkness. And Rustem told him. Then he went before Kai Kaous also
and related what he had seen, and how no man like unto Sohrab was yet come
forth from amid the Turks. And he likened him unto Saum, the son of Neriman.

Now when the morning was come, Sohrab put on his armour. Then he went
unto a height whence he could look down over the camp of the Iranians. And
he took with him Hujir, and spake to him, saying
     Seek not to deceive me, nor swerve from the paths of truth. For if
     thou reply unto my questions with sincerity, I will loosen thy bonds
     and give thee treasures; but if thou deceive me, thou shalt languish
     till death in thy chains.
And Hujir said, I will give answer unto thee according to my knowledge.

Then Sohrab said, I am about to question thee concerning the nobles whose
camps are spread beneath our feet, and thou shalt name unto me those whom
I point out. Behold yon tent of gold brocade, adorned with skins of leopard,
before whose doors stand an hundred elephants of war. Within its gates is a
throne of turquoise, and over it floateth a standard of violet with a moon and
sun worked in its centre. Tell unto me now whose is this pavilion that standeth
thus in the midst of the whole camp?

And Hujir replied, It pertaineth unto the Shah of Iran.

Then Sohrab said, I behold on its right hand yet another tent draped in the
colours of mourning, and above it floateth a standard whereon is worked an

And Hujir said, It is the tent of Tus, the son of Nuder, for he beareth an
elephant as his ensign.

Then Sohrab said, Whose is the camp in which stand many warriors clad in
rich armour? A flag of gold with a lion worked upon it waveth along its field.

And Hujir said, It belongeth unto Gudarz the brave. And those who stand
about it are his sons, for eighty men of might are sprung from his loins.

Then Sohrab said, To whom belongeth the tent draped with green tissues?
Before its doors is planted the flag of Kawah. I see upon its throne a Pehliva,
nobler of mien than all his fellows, whose head striketh the stars. And beside
him standeth a steed tall as he, and his standard showeth a lion and a writhing
88                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

When Hujir heard this question he thought within himself, If I tell unto this
lion the signs whereby he may know Rustem the Pehliva, surely he will fall upon
him and seek to destroy him. It will beseem me better, therefore, to keep silent,
and to omit his name from the list of the heroes. So he said unto Sohrab
     This is some ally who is come unto Kai Kaous from far Cathay, and
     his name is not known unto me.
And Sohrab when he heard it was downcast, and his heart was sad that he could
nowhere discover Rustem; and though it seemed unto him that he beheld the
marks whereby his mother said that he would know him, he could not credit
the words of his eyes against the words of Hujir. Still he asked yet again the
name of the warrior, and yet again Hujir denied it unto him, for it was written
that that should come to pass which had been decreed. But Sohrab ceased not
from his questionings. And he asked
     Who dwelleth beneath the standard with the head of a wolf?
And Hujir said, It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, who dwelleth within that tent,
and men call him Gew the valiant.

Then Sohrab said, Whose is the seat over which are raised awnings and brocades
of Roum, that glisten with gold in the sunlight?

And Hujir said, It is the throne of Fraburz, the son of the Shah.

Then Sohrab said, It beseemeth the son of a Shah to surround himself with
such splendour.

And he pointed unto a tent with trappings of yellow that was encircled by
flags of many colours. And he questioned of its owner.

And Hujir said, Guraz the lion-hearted is master therein.

Then Sohrab, when he could not learn the tent of his father, questioned Hujir
concerning Rustem, and he asked yet a third time of the green tent. Yet Hujir
ever replied that he knew not the name of its master. And when Sohrab pressed
him concerning Rustem, he said that Rustem lingered in Zaboulistan, for it was
the feast of roses. But Sohrab refused to give ear unto the thought that Kai
Kaous should go forth to battle without the aid of Rustem, whose might none
could match. So he said unto Hujir

     An thou show not unto me the tents of Rustem, I will strike thy
     head from off thy shoulders, and the world shall fade before thine
     eyes. Choose, therefore, the truth or thy life.
And Hujir thought within himself, Though five score men cannot withstand
Rustem when he be roused to battle-fury, my mind misgiveth me that he may

have found his equal in this boy. And, for that the stripling is younger, it might
come about that he subdue the Pehliva. What recketh my life against the weal
of Iran? I will therefore abandon me into his hands rather than show unto him
the marks of Rustem the Pehliva. So he said
     Why seekest thou to know Rustem the Pehliva? Surely thou wilt
     know him in battle, and he shall strike thee dumb, and quell thy
     pride of youth. Yet I will not show him unto thee.
When Sohrab heard these words he raised his sword and smote Hujir, and made
an end of him with a great blow. Then he made himself ready for fight, and
leaped upon his steed of battle, and he rode till he came unto the camp of the
Iranians, and he broke down the barriers with his spear, and fear seized upon
all men when they beheld his stalwart form and majesty of mien and action.
Then Sohrab opened his mouth, and his voice of thunder was heard even unto
the far ends of the camp. And he spake words of pride, and called forth the
Shah to do battle with him, and he sware with a loud voice that the blood of
Zindeh should be avenged. Now when Sohrabs voice had rung throughout the
camp, confusion spread within its borders, and none of those who stood about
the throne would accept his challenge for the Shah. And with one accord they
said that Rustem was their sole support, and that his sword alone could cause
the sun to weep. And Tus sped him within the courts of Rustem. And Rustem

     The hardest tasks doth Kai Kaous ever lay upon me.
But the nobles would not suffer him to linger, neither to waste time in words,
and they buckled upon him his armour, and they threw his leopard-skin about
him, and they saddled Rakush, and made ready the hero for the strife. And
they pushed him forth, and called after him

     Haste, haste, for no common combat awaiteth thee, for verily Ahri-
     man standeth before us.
Now when Rustem was come before Sohrab, and beheld the youth, brave and
strong, with a breast like unto Saum, he said to him

     Let us go apart from hence, and step forth from out the lines of the
For there was a zone between the two camps that none might pass. And Sohrab
assented to the demand of Rustem, and they stepped out into it, and made
them ready for single combat. But when Sohrab would have fallen upon him,
the soul of Rustem melted with compassion, and he desired to save a boy thus
fair and valiant. So he said unto him
     O young man, the air is warm and soft, but the earth is cold. I have
     pity upon thee, and would not take from thee the boon of life. Yet if
     we combat together, surely thou wilt fall by my hands, for none have
90                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

     withstood my power, neither men nor Deevs nor dragons. Desist,
     therefore, from this enterprise, and quit the ranks of Turan, for Iran
     hath need of heroes like unto thee.
Now while Rustem spake thus, the heart of Sohrab went out to him. And he
looked at him wistfully, and said

     O hero, I am about to put unto thee a question, and I entreat of
     thee that thou reply to me according to the truth. Tell unto me thy
     name, that my heart may rejoice in thy words, for it seemeth unto
     me that thou art none other than Rustem, the son of Zal, the son
     of Saum, the son of Neriman.

But Rustem replied, Thou errest, I am not Rustem, neither am I sprung from
the race of Neriman. Rustem is a Pehliva, but I, I am a slave, and own neither
a crown nor a throne.

These words spake Rustem that Sohrab might be afraid when he beheld his
prowess, and deem that yet greater might was hidden in the camp of his enemy.
But Sohrab when he heard these words was sad, and his hopes that were risen
so high were shattered, and the day that had looked so bright was made dark
unto his eyes. Then he made him ready for the combat, and they fought until
their spears were shivered and their swords hacked like unto saws. And when
all their weapons were bent, they betook them unto clubs, and they waged war
with these until they were broken. Then they strove until their mail was torn
and their horses spent with exhaustion, and even then they could not desist, but
wrestled with one another with their hands till that the sweat and blood ran
down from their bodies. And they contended until their throats were parched
and their bodies weary, and to neither was given the victory. Then they stayed
them a while to rest, and Rustem thought within his mind how all his days he
had not coped with such a hero. And it seemed to him that his contest with
the White Deev had been as nought to this.

Now when they had rested a while they fell to again, and they fought with
arrows, but still none could surpass the other. Then Rustem strove to hurl
Sohrab from his steed, but it availed him nought, and he could shake him no
more than the mountain can be moved from its seat. So they betook them-
selves again unto clubs, and Sohrab aimed at Rustem with might and smote
him, and Rustem reeled beneath the stroke, and bit his lips in agony. Then
Sohrab vaunted his advantage, and-bade Rustem go and measure him with his
equals; for though his strength be great, he could not stand against a youth.
So they went their ways, and Rustem fell upon the men of Turan, and spread
confusion far and wide among their ranks; and Sohrab raged along the lines of
Iran, and men and horses fell under his hands. And Rustem was sad in his soul,
and he turned with sorrow into his camp. But when he saw the destruction
Sohrab had wrought his anger was kindled, and he reproached the youth, and
challenged him to come forth yet again to single combat. But because that the

day was far spent they resolved to rest until the morrow.

Then Rustem went before Kai Kaous and told him of this boy of valour, and he
prayed unto Ormuzd that He would give him strength to vanquish his foe. Yet
he made ready also his house lest he should fall in the fight, and he commanded
that a tender message be borne unto Rudabeh, and he sent words of comfort
unto Zal, his father. And Sohrab, too, in his camp lauded the might of Rustem,
and he said how the battle had been sore, and how his mind had misgiven him
of the issue. And he spake unto Human, saying

     My mind is filled with thoughts of this aged man, mine adversary,
     for it would seem unto me that his stature is like unto mine, and that
     I behold about him the tokens that my mother recounted unto me.
     And my heart goeth out towards him, and I muse if it be Rustem,
     my father. For it behoveth me not to combat him. Wherefore, I
     beseech thee, tell unto me how this may be.

But Human answered and said, Oft have I looked upon the face of Rustem in
battle, and mine eyes have beheld his deeds of valour; but this man in no wise
resembleth him, nor is his manner of wielding his club the same.

These things spake Human in his vileness, because that Afrasiyab had enjoined
him to lead Sohrab into destruction. And Sohrab held his peace, but he was
not wholly satisfied.

Now when the day had begun to lighten the sky and clear away the shadows,
Rustem and Sohrab strode forth unto the midway spot that stretched between
the armies. And Sohrab bare in his hands a mighty club, and the garb of battle
was upon him; but his mouth was full of smiles, and he asked of Rustem how
he had rested, and he said

     Wherefore hast thou prepared thy heart for battle? Cast from thee,
     I beg, this mace and sword of vengeance, and let us doff our armour,
     and seat ourselves together in amity, and let wine soften our angry
     deeds. For it seemeth unto me that this conflict is impure. And if
     thou wilt listen to my desires, my heart shall speak to thee of love,
     and I will make the tears of shame spring up into thine eyes. And
     for this cause I ask thee yet again, tell me thy name, neither hide it
     any longer, for I behold that thou art of noble race. And it would
     seem unto me that thou art Rustem, the chosen one, the Lord of
     Zaboulistan, the son of Zal, the son of Saum the hero.

But Rustem answered, O hero of tender age, we are not come forth to parley
but to combat, and mine ears are sealed against thy words of lure. I am an old
man, and thou art young, but we are girded for battle, and the Master of the
world shall decide between us.
92                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

Then Sohrab said, O man of many years, wherefore wilt thou not listen to
the counsel of a stripling? I desired that thy soul should leave thee upon thy
bed, but thou hast elected to perish in the combat. That which is ordained it
must be done, therefore let us make ready for the conflict.

So they made them ready, and when they had bound their steeds they fell upon
each other, and the crash of their encounter was heard like thunder throughout
the camps. And they measured their strength from the morning until the set-
ting of the sun. And when the day was about to vanish, Sohrab seized upon
Rustem by the girdle and threw him upon the ground, and kneeled upon him,
and drew forth his sword from his scabbard, and would have severed his head
from his trunk. Then Rustem knew that only wile could save him. So he opened
his mouth and said
     O young man, thou knowest not the customs of the combat. It is
     written in the laws of honour that he who overthroweth a brave man
     for the first time should not destroy him, but preserve him for fight
     a second time, then only is it given unto him to kill his adversary.
And Sohrab listened to Rustems words of craft and stayed his hand, and he let
the warrior go, and because that the day was ended he sought to fight no more,
but turned him aside and chased the deer until the night was spent. Then came
to him Human, and asked of the adventures of the day. And Sohrab told him
how he had vanquished the tall man, and how he had granted him freedom.
And Human reproached him with his folly, and said
     Alas, young man, thou didst fall into a snare, for this is not the
     custom among the brave. And now perchance thou wilt yet fall
     under the hands of this warrior.
Sohrab was abashed when he heard the words of Human, but he said
     Be not grieved, for in an hour we meet again in battle, and verily he
     will not stand a third time against my youthful strength.
Now while Sohrab was thus doing, Rustem was gone beside a running brook,
and laved his limbs, and prayed to God in his distress. And he entreated of
Ormuzd that He would grant him such strength that the victory must be his.
And Ormuzd heard him, and gave to him such strength that the rock whereon
Rustem stood gave way under his feet, because it had not the power to bear
him. Then Rustem saw it was too much, and he prayed yet again that part
thereof be taken from him. And once more Ormuzd listened to his voice. Then
when the time for combat was come, Rustem turned him to the meeting-place,
and his heart was full of cares and his face of fears. But Sohrab came forth like
a giant refreshed, and he ran at Rustem like to a mad elephant, and he cried
with a voice of thunder
     O thou who didst flee from battle, wherefore art thou come out once
     more against me? But I say unto thee, this time shall thy words of
     guile avail thee nought.

And Rustem, when he heard him, and looked upon him, was seized with misgiv-
ing, and he learned to know fear. So he prayed to Ormuzd that He would restore
to him the power He had taken back. But he suffered not Sohrab to behold his
fears, and they made them ready for the fight. And he closed upon Sohrab with
all his new-found might, and shook him terribly, and though Sohrab returned
his attacks with vigour, the hour of his overthrow was come. For Rustem took
him by the girdle and hurled him unto the earth, and he broke his back like to
a reed, and he drew forth his sword to sever his body. Then Sohrab knew it was
the end, and he gave a great sigh, and writhed in his agony, and he said
     That which is come about, it is my fault, and henceforward will my
     youth be a theme of derision among the people. But I sped not forth
     for empty glory, but I went out to seek my father; for my mother
     had told me by what tokens I should know him, and I perish for
     longing after him. And now have my pains been fruitless, for it hath
     not been given unto me to look upon his face. Yet I say unto thee,
     if thou shouldest become a fish that swimmeth in the depths of the
     ocean, if thou shouldest change into a star that is concealed in the
     farthest heaven, my father would draw thee forth from thy hiding-
     place, and avenge my death upon thee when he shall learn that the
     earth is become my bed. For my father is Rustem the Pehliva, and
     it shall be told unto him how that Sohrab his son perished in the
     quest after his face.
When Rustem heard these words his sword fell from out of his grasp, and he was
shaken with dismay. And there broke from his heart a groan as of one whose
heart was racked with anguish. And the earth became dark before his eyes, and
he sank down lifeless beside his son. But when he had opened his eyes once
more, he cried unto Sohrab in the agony of his spirit. And he said
     Bearest thou about thee a token of Rustem, that I may know that the
     words which thou speakest are true? For I am Rustem the unhappy,
     and may my name be struck from the lists of men!
When Sohrab heard these words his misery was boundless, and he cried
     If thou art indeed my father, then hast thou stained thy sword in
     the life-blood of thy son. And thou didst it of thine obstinacy. For
     I sought to turn thee unto love, and I implored of thee thy name,
     for I thought to behold in thee the tokens recounted of my mother.
     But I appealed unto thy heart in vain, and now is the time gone by
     for meeting. Yet open, I beseech thee, mine armour, and regard the
     jewel upon mine arm. For it is an onyx given unto me by my father,
     as a token whereby he should know me.
Then Rustem did as Sohrab bade him, and he opened his mail and saw the
onyx; and when he had seen it he tore his clothes in his distress, and he covered
his head with ashes. And the tears of penitence ran from his eyes, and he roared
aloud in his sorrow. But Sohrab said
94                                   CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

     It is in vain, there is no remedy. Weep not, therefore, for doubtless
     it was written that this should be.

Now when the sun was set, and Rustem returned not to the camp, the nobles
of Iran were afraid, and they went forth to seek him. And when they were gone
but a little way they came upon Rakush, and when they saw that he was alone
they raised a wailing, for they deemed that of a surety Rustem was perished.
And they went and told Kai Kaous thereof, and he said

     Let Tus go forth and see if this indeed be so, and if Rustem be truly
     fallen, let the drums call men unto battle that we may avenge him
     upon this Turk.

Now Sohrab, when he beheld afar off the men that were come out to seek
Rustem, turned to his father and said

     I entreat of thee that thou do unto me an act of love. Let not the
     Shah fall upon the men of Turan, for they came not forth in enmity
     to him but to do my desire, and on my head alone resteth this
     expedition. Wherefore I desire not that they should perish when I
     can defend them no longer. As for me, I came like the thunder and I
     vanish like the wind, but perchance it is given unto us to meet again

Then Rustem promised to do the desires of Sohrab. And he went before the
men of Iran, and when they beheld him yet alive they set up a great shout,
but when they saw that his clothes were torn, and that he bare about him the
marks of sorrow, they asked of him what was come to pass. Then he told them
how he had caused a noble son to perish. And they were grieved for him, and
joined in his wailing. Then he bade one among them go forth into the camp
of Turan, and deliver this message unto Human. And he sent word unto him,

     The sword of vengeance must slumber in the scabbard. Thou art
     now leader of the host, return, therefore, whence thou camest, and
     depart across the river ere many days be fallen. As for me, I will
     fight no more, yet neither will I speak unto thee again, for thou didst
     hide from my son the tokens of his father, of thine iniquity thou didst
     lead him into this pit.

Then when he had thus spoken, Rustem turned him yet again unto his son.
And the nobles went with him, and they beheld Sohrab, and heard his groans
of pain. And Rustem, when he saw the agony of the boy, was beside himself,
and would have made an end of his own life, but the nobles suffered it not, and
stayed his hand. Then Rustem remembered him that Kai Kaous had a balm
mighty to heal. And he prayed Gudarz go before the Shah, and bear unto him
a message of entreaty from Rustem his servant. And he said

     O Shah, if ever I have done that which was good in thy sight, if ever
     my hand have been of avail unto thee, recall now my benefits in the
     hour of my need, and have pity upon my dire distress. Send unto
     me, I pray thee, of the balm that is among thy treasures, that my
     son may be healed by thy grace.

And Gudarz outstripped the whirlwind in his speed to bear unto the Shah this
message. But the heart of Kai Kaous was hardened, and he remembered not
the benefits he had received from Rustem, and he recalled only the proud words
that he had spoken before him. And he was afraid lest the might of Sohrab be
joined to that of his father, and that together they prove mightier than he, and
turn upon him. So he shut his ear unto the cry of his Pehliva. And Gudarz
bore back the answer of the Shah, and he said

     The heart of Kai Kaous is flinty, and his evil nature is like to a bitter
     gourd that ceaseth never to bear fruit. Yet I counsel thee, go before
     him thyself, and see if peradventure thou soften this rock.

And Rustem in his grief did as Gudarz counselled, and turned to go before the
Shah, but he was not come before him ere a messenger overtook him, and told
unto him that Sohrab was departed from the world. Then Rustem set up a
wailing such as the earth hath not heard the like of, and he heaped reproaches
upon himself, and he could not cease from plaining the son that was fallen by
his hands. And he cried continually

     I that am old have killed my son. I that am strong have uprooted
     this mighty boy. I have torn the heart of my child, I have laid low
     the head of a Pehliva.

Then he made a great fire, and flung into it his tent of many colours, and his
trappings of Roum, his saddle, and his leopard-skin, his armour well tried in
battle, and all the appurtenances of his throne. And he stood by and looked on
to see his pride laid in the dust. And he tore his flesh, and cried aloud

     My heart is sick unto death.

Then he commanded that Sohrab be swathed in rich brocades of gold worthy
of his body. And when they had enfolded him, and Rustem learned that the
Turanians had quitted the borders, he made ready his army to return unto
Zaboulistan. And the nobles marched before the bier, and their heads were
covered with ashes, and their garments were torn. And the drums of the war-
elephants were shattered, and the cymbals broken, and the tails of the horses
were shorn to the root, and all the signs of mourning were abroad.

Now Zal, when he saw the host returning thus in sorrow, marvelled what was
come about; for he beheld Rustem at their head, wherefore he knew that the
wailing was not for his son. And he came before Rustem and questioned him.
And Rustem led him unto the bier and showed unto him the youth that was like
96                                  CHAPTER 8. RUSTEM AND SOHRAB

in feature and in might unto Saum the son of Neriman, and he told him all that
was come to pass, and how this was his son, who in years was but an infant,
but a hero in battle. And Rudabeh too came out to behold the child, and she
joined her lamentations unto theirs. Then they built for Sohrab a tomb like to
a horses hoof, and Rustem laid him therein in a chamber of gold perfumed with
ambergris. And he covered him with brocades of gold. And when it was done,
the house of Rustem grew like to a grave, and its courts were filled with the
voice of sorrow. And no joy would enter into the heart of Rustem, and it was
long before he held high his head.

Meantime the news spread even unto Turan, and there too did all men grieve
and weep for the child of prowess that was fallen in his bloom. And the King of
Samengan tore his vestments, but when his daughter learned it she was beside
herself with affliction. And Tahmineh cried after her son, and bewailed the evil
fate that had befallen him, and she heaped black earth upon her head, and tore
her hair, and wrung her hands, and rolled on the ground in her agony. And her
mouth was never weary of plaining. Then she caused the garments of Sohrab
to be brought unto her, and his throne and his steed. And she regarded them,
and stroked the courser and poured tears upon his hoofs, and she cherished the
robes as though they yet contained her boy, and she pressed the head of the
palfrey unto her breast, and she kissed the helmet that Sohrab had worn. Then
with his sword she cut off the tail of his steed and set fire unto the house of
Sohrab, and she gave his gold and jewels unto the poor. And when a year had
thus rolled over her bitterness, the breath departed from out her body, and her
spirit went forth after Sohrab her son.
Chapter 9


O        N a certain day it came about that Tus, Gew, Gudarz, and other brave
knights of Iran went forth to chase wild asses in the forests of Daghoui. Now
when they were come into the wood, they found therein a woman of surpassing
beauty, and the hearts of Tus and Gew burned towards her in love. And when
they had questioned her of her lineage, and learned that she was of the race
of Feridoun, each desired to take her to wife. But none would give way unto
the other, and hot words were bandied, and they were like to come unto blows.
Then one spake, and said

I counsel you, let Kai Kaous decide between you. And they listened to the
voice of the counsellor, and they took with them the Peri-faced, and led her
before Kai Kaous, and recounted to him all that was come about. But Kai
Kaous, when he beheld the beauty of the maid, longed after her for himself, and
he said that she was worthy of the throne; and he took her and led her into the
house of his women.

Now after many days there was born to her a son, and he was of goodly mien,
tall and strong, and the name that was given to him was Saiawush. And Kai
Kaous rejoiced in this son of his race, but he was grieved also because of the
message of the stars concerning him. For it was written that the heavens were
hostile unto this infant; neither would his virtues avail him aught, for these
above all would lead him into destruction.

In the meantime the news that a son had been born unto the Shah spread even
unto the land of Rustem. And the Pehliva, when he learned thereof, aroused
him from his sorrow for Sohrab, and he came forth out of Zaboulistan, and
asked for the babe at the hands of its father, that he might rear it unto Iran.
And Kai Kaous suffered it, and Rustem bare the child unto his kingdom, and

98                                                  CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

trained him in the arts of war and of the banquet. And Saiawush increased in
might and beauty, and you would have said that the world held not his like.

Now when Saiawush was become strong (so that he could ensnare a lion), he
came before Rustem, bearing high his head. And he spake, saying
     I desire to go before the Shah, that my father may behold me, and
     see what manner of man thou hast made of me.
And Rustem deemed that he spake well. So he made great preparations, and
marched unto Iran with a mighty host, and Saiawush rode with him at their
head. And the land rejoiced when it looked on the face of Saiawush, and there
was great joy in the courts of the King, and jewels and gold and precious things
past the telling rained upon Rustem and Saiawush his charge. And Kai Kaous
was glad when he beheld the boy, and gave rich rewards unto Rustem; but Sa-
iawush did he place beside him on the throne. And all men spake his praises,
and there was a feast given, such as the world hath not seen the like.

Then Saiawush stayed in the courts of his father, and seven years did he prove
his spirit; but in the eighth, when he had found him worthy, he gave unto him a
throne and a crown. And all was well, and men had forgotten the evil message
of the stars. But that which is written in the heavens, it is surely accomplished,
and the day of ill fortune drew nigh. For it came about that Sudaveh beheld
the youth of Saiawush, and her eyes were filled with his beauty, and her soul
burned after him. So she sent unto him a messenger, and invited him to enter
the house of the women. But he sent in answer words of excuse, for he trusted
her not. Then Sudaveh made complaint before Kai Kaous that Saiawush had
deafened his ear unto her request, and she bade the Shah send him behind the
curtains of the womens house, that his son might become acquainted with his
sisters. And Kai Kaous did that which Sudaveh asked of him, and Saiawush
obeyed his commands.

But Sudaveh, when she had so far accomplished her longing that she had got-
ten him within the house, desired that he should speak with her alone. But
Saiawush resisted her wish. And three times did Sudaveh entice him behind
the curtains of the house, and three times was Saiawush cold unto her yearn-
ing. Then Sudaveh was wroth, and she made complaint unto the Shah, and she
slandered the fair fame of Saiawush, and she spread evil reports of him through-
out the land, and she inflamed the heart of Kai Kaous against his son. Now
the Shah was angered beyond measure, and it availed nought unto Saiawush
to defend himself, for Kai Kaous was filled with the love of Sudaveh, and he
listened only unto her voice. And he remembered how she had borne his cap-
tivity in Hamaveran, and he knew not of her evil deceits. And when she said
that Saiawush had done her great wrong, Kai Kaous was troubled in his spirit,
and he resolved how he should act, for his heart went out also unto his son, and
he feared that guile lurked in these things. And he could not decide between
them. So he caused dromedaries to be sent forth, even unto the borders of the

land, and bring forth wood from the forests. And they did so, and there was
reared a mighty heap of logs, so that the eye could behold it at a distance of
two farsangs. And it was piled so that a path ran through its midst such as
a mounted knight could traverse. And the Shah commanded that naphtha be
poured upon the wood; and when it was done he bade that it be lighted, and
there were needed two hundred men to light the pyre, so great was its width and
height. And the flames and smoke overspread the heavens, and men shouted
for fear when they beheld the tongues of fire, and the heat thereof was felt in
the far corners of the land.

Now when all was ready, Kai Kaous bade Saiawush his son ride into the midst
of the burning mount, that he might prove his innocence. And Saiawush did
as the King commanded, and he came before Kai Kaous, and saluted him, and
made him ready for the ordeal. And when he came nigh unto the burning wood,
he commended his soul unto God, and prayed that He would make him pure
before his father. And when he had done so, he gave rein unto his horse, and
entered into the flame. And a great cry of sorrow arose from all men in the
plains and in the city, for they held that no man could come forth alive from
this furnace. And Sudaveh heard the cry, and came forth upon the roof of her
house that she might behold the sight, and she prayed that ill might befall unto
Saiawush, and she held her eyes fastened upon the pyre. But the nobles gazed
on the face of Kai Kaous, and their mouths were filled with execrations, and
their lips trembled with wrath at this deed.

And Saiawush rode on undaunted, and his white robes and ebon steed shone
forth between the flames, and their anger was reflected upon his helmet of gold.
And he rode until he was come unto the end of the pathway, and when he came
forth there was not singed a hair of his head, neither had the smoke blackened
his garments.

Now when the people beheld that he was come forth alive, they rent the welkin
with their shouting. And the nobles came forth to greet him, and, save only
Sudaveh, there was joy in all hearts. Now Saiawush rode till he came before the
Shah, and then he got him off his horse, and did homage before his father. And
when Kai Kaous beheld him, and saw that there were no signs of fire about him,
he knew that he was innocent. So he raised his son from off the ground, and
placed Saiawush beside him on the throne, and asked his forgiveness for that
which was come to pass. And Saiawush granted it. Then Kai Kaous feasted his
son with wine and song, and three days did they spend in revels, and the door
of the Kings treasury was opened.

But on the fourth day Kai Kaous mounted the throne of the Kaianides. He
took in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he commanded that Sudaveh be led
before him. Then he reproached her with her evil deeds, and he bade her make
ready to depart the world, for verily death was decreed unto her. And in vain
did Sudaveh ask for pardon at the hands of the King, for she continued to speak
100                                                CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

ill of Saiawush, and she said that by the arts of magic alone had he escaped the
fire, and she ceased not to cry against him. So the King gave orders that she
be led forth unto death, and the nobles approved his resolve, and invoked the
blessings of Heaven upon the head of the Shah. But Saiawush, when he learned
it, was grieved, for he knew that the woman was beloved of his father. And he
went before Kai Kaous, and craved her pardon. And Kai Kaous granted it with
gladness, for his heart yearned after Sudaveh. So Saiawush led her back, and
the curtains of the house of the women hid her once more behind them, and the
Shah was glad again in her sight.

Then it came about that the love of Kai Kaous for Sudaveh grew yet mightier,
and he was as wax under her hands. And when she saw that her empire over him
was strengthened, she filled his ear with plaints of Saiawush, and she darkened
the mind of the Shah till that his spirit was troubled, and he knew not where
he should turn for truth.

Now while Kai Kaous thus dallied behind the curtains of his house, Afrasiyab
made him ready with three thousand chosen men to fall upon the land of Iran.
And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, was sad, for he knew that he must ex-
change the banquet for the battle; and he was angered also with Afrasiyab, and
he poured out words of reproof against him because he had broken his covenant
and had once more attacked his land. Yet he made him ready to lead forth
his army. Then a Mubid prayed him that he would not go forth himself, and
he recalled unto Kai Kaous how twice already he had endangered his kingdom.
But Kai Kaous was wroth when he heard these words, and he bade the Mubid
depart from his presence, and he sware that he alone could turn the army unto
good issue.

But Saiawush, when he heard it, took heart of grace, for he thought within
his spirit, If the King grant unto me to lead forth his army, perchance I may
win unto myself a name of valour, and be delivered from the wiles of Sudaveh.
So he girded himself with the armour of battle and came before the King his
father, and made known to him his request. And he recalled unto Kai Kaous
how that he was his son, and how he was sprung from a worthy race, and how
his rank permitted him to lead forth a host; and Kai Kaous listened to his
words with gladness, and assented to his desires. Then messengers were sent
unto Rustem to bid him go forth to battle with his charge and guard him. And
Kai Kaous said unto his Pehliva
      If thou watchest over him, I can slumber; but if thou reposest, then
      doth it beseem me to act.
And Rustem answered and said, O King, I am thy servant, and it behoveth me
to do thy will. As for Saiawush, he is the light of my heart and the joy of my
soul; I rejoice to lead him forth before his enemies.

So the trumpets of war were sounded, and the clang of armour and the tramp

of horsemen and of foot filled the air. And five Mubids bare aloft the standard
of Kawah, and the army followed after them. And they passed in order before
Kai Kaous, and he blessed the troops and his son, who rode at their head. And
he spake, saying

     May thy good star shine down upon thee, and mayst thou come back
     to me victorious and glad.

Then Kai Kaous returned him unto his house, and Saiawush gave the signal to
depart. And they marched until they came unto the land of Zaboulistan.

Now when they were come there they rested them a while, and feasted in the
house of Zal. And while they revelled there came out to join them riders from
Cabul and from Ind, and wherever there was a king of might he sent over his
army to aid them. Then when a month had rolled above their heads they took
their leave of Zal and of Zaboulistan, and went forward till they came unto
Balkh. And at Balkh the men of Turan met them, and Gersiwaz, the brother
of Afrasiyab, was at their head. Now when he saw the hosts of Iran, he knew
that the hour to fight was come. So the two armies made them in order, and
they waged battle hot and sore, and for three days the fighting raged without
ceasing, but on the fourth victory passed over to Iran. Then Saiawush called
before him a scribe, and wrote a letter, perfumed with musk, unto Kai Kaous
his father. And when he had invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, he
told him all that was come to pass, and how he had conquered the foes of Iran.
And Kai Kaous, when he had read the letter, rejoiced, and wrote an answer
unto his son, and his gladness shone in his words, and you would have said it
was a letter like to the tender green of spring.

But Afrasiyab, when he learned the news, was discomfited, and that which
Gersiwaz told unto him was bitter to his taste, and he was beside himself for
anger. Now when he had heard his brother to an end, Afrasiyab laid him down
to slumber. Yet ere the night was spent there came out one to the house of
Gersiwaz and told unto him that Afrasiyab was shouting like to a man bereft
of reason. Then Gersiwaz went in unto the King, and he beheld him lying upon
the floor of his chamber roaring in agony of spirit. Then he raised him, and
questioned him wherefore he cried out thus. But Afrasiyab said

     Question me not until I have recovered my wits, for I am like to one

Then he desired that torches be brought within to light up the darkness, and
he gathered his robes about him and mounted upon his throne. And when he
had done so he called for the Mubids, and he recounted to them the dream that
had visited his slumber. And he told how that he had seen the earth filled with
serpents, and the Iranians were fallen upon him, and evil was come to him from
Kai Kaous and a boy that stood beside him on the throne. And he trembled as
he related his dream, and he would take no comfort from the words of Gersiwaz.
102                                                   CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

Now the Mubids as they listened were afraid, and when Afrasiyab bade them
open their lips, they dared not for fear. Then the King said that he would cleave
open their heads if they spake not, and he sware unto them a great oath that he
would spare them, even though the words they should utter be evil. Then they
revealed to him how it was written that Saiawush would bring destruction upon
Turan, and how he would be victorious over the Turks, and how, even though
he should fall by the hands of Afrasiyab, this evil could not be stayed. And
they counselled Afrasiyab to contend no longer against the son of Kai Kaous,
for surely if he stayed not his hand this evil could not be turned aside.

When Afrasiyab heard this message, he took counsel with Gersiwaz, and he
      If I cease from warring against Saiawush surely none of these things
      can come about. It beseemeth me to seek after peace. I will send
      therefore silver and jewels and rich gifts unto Saiawush, and will
      bind up with gold the eye of war.
So he bade Gersiwaz take from his treasures rich brocades of Roum, and jewels
of price, and bear them across the Jihun to the camp of Saiawush. And he sent
a message unto him, saying
      The world is disturbed since the days of Silim and Tur, the valiant,
      since the times of Irij, who was killed unjustly. But now, let us forget
      these things, let us conclude an alliance together, and let peace reign
      in our borders.
And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab bade, and he went forth, and a train of camels
bearing rich presents followed after him. And he marched till he came within
the tents of Saiawush.

Now when he had delivered his message unto Saiawush, the young King mar-
velled thereat; and he took counsel with Rustem how they should act, for he
trusted not in the words of Afrasiyab, and he deemed that poison was hidden
under these flowers. And Rustem counselled him that they should entertain
Gersiwaz the space of seven days, and that joy and feasting should resound
throughout the camp, and in the mean season they would ponder their deeds.
And it was done as Rustem said, and the sounds of revelry were abroad, and
Gersiwaz rejoiced in the presence of Saiawush. But on the eighth day Gersiwaz
presented himself before Saiawush in audience, and demanded a reply. And
Saiawush said
      We have pondered thy message, and we yield to thy request, for we
      desire not bloodshed but peace. Yet since it behoveth us to know
      that poison be not hidden under thy words, we desire of thee that
      thou send over to us as hostages an hundred chosen men of Turan,
      allied unto Afrasiyab by blood, that we may guard them as a pledge
      of thy words.

When Gersiwaz heard this answer, he sent it unto Afrasiyab by a messenger
quick as the wind. And Afrasiyab, when he heard it, was troubled, for he said
     If I give way to this demand I bereave the land of its choicest war-
     riors; yet if I refuse, Saiawush will deny belief unto my words, and
     the evils foretold will fall upon me.

So he chose out from among his army men allied to him by blood, and he sent
them forth unto Saiawush. Then he caused the trumpets to sound, and retreated
with his army unto Turan, and restored unto Iran the lands he had seized.

Now when Rustem beheld the warriors, and that Afrasiyab had spoken that
which was true, he suffered Gersiwaz to depart; and he held counsel with Sa-
iawush how they should acquaint Kai Kaous with that which was come to pass,
for Saiawush said
     If Kai Kaous desire vengeance rather than peace, he will be angered
     and commit a deed of folly. Who shall bear unto him these tidings?

And Rustem said, Suffer that I go forth to tell them unto Kai Kaous, for verily
he will listen unto that which I shall speak, and honour will fall upon Saiawush
for this adventure.

Wherefore Rustem went before the King, and told him they had conquered
Afrasiyab, and how he was become afraid, and how there was concluded a
peace between them. And he vaunted the wisdom of Saiawush that was quick
to act and quick to refrain, and he craved the Shah to confirm what they had
done. But Kai Kaous was angered when he heard it, and he said that Saiawush
had done like to an infant. And he loaded reproaches upon Rustem, and said
that his counsels were vile, and he sware that he would be avenged upon Turan.
Then he recalled all they had suffered in the days that were past at the hands
of Afrasiyab, and he said the tree of vengeance could not be uprooted. And he
desired Rustem that he turn him back unto Balkh, and say unto Saiawush that
he should destroy these hostages of Turan, and that he should fall again upon
Afrasiyab, nor cease from fighting. But Rustem, when he had heard him to an
end, opened his mouth and said unto the Shah

     O King, listen to my voice, and do not that which is evil! Verily I
     say unto thee that Saiawush will not break his oath unto Afrasiyab,
     neither will he destroy these men of Turan that were delivered into
     his hands.

When Kai Kaous heard his speech his anger was kindled, and he upbraided
Rustem, and said that his evil counsels had caused Saiawush to swerve from
the straight path; and he taunted him and bade him go back unto Seistan, and
he said that Tus should go forth as Pehliva unto his son. Then Rustem too
was angered, and he gave back the reproaches of the Shah, and he turned him
and quitted the courts and sped him back unto his kingdom. But Kai Kaous
104                                                 CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

sent Tus unto the army at his borders, and he bade him speak his desires unto
Saiawush his son.

Now Saiawush, when he learned what was come about, was sore discomfited, and
he pondered how he should act. For he said, How can I come before Ormuzd if
I depart from mine oath? Yet, however I shall act, I see around me but perdition.

Then he called for Bahram and Zengueh, and confided to them his troubles.
And he said how that Kai Kaous was a king who knew not good from evil, and
how he had accomplished that wherefore the army went forth, yet how the Shah
desired that vengeance should not cease. And he said

      If I listen to the commands of the King, I do that which is evil; yet
      if I listen not, surely he will destroy me. Wherefore I will send back
      unto Afrasiyab the men he hath placed within my hands, and then
      hide me from sight.
Then he sent Zengueh before Afrasiyab with a writing. And he told therein all
that was come about, and how that discord was sprouted out of their peace.
And he recalled unto Afrasiyab how he had not broken their treaty though Kai
Kaous had bidden him do it, and he said how he could not return unto the King
his father. Then he prayed Afrasiyab that he would make a passage for him
through his dominions, that he might hide him wheresoever God desired. For
he said

      I seek a spot where my name shall be lost unto Kai Kaous, and
      where I may not know of his woeful deeds.
And Zengueh set forth and did as Saiawush desired, and he took with him the
hundred men of Turan, and all the gold and jewels that Afrasiyab had sent.
And when he was come within the gates Afrasiyab received him right kindly,
but when he had heard his message he was downcast in his spirit. Then he
called for Piran, the leader of his hosts, and he took counsel with him how he
should act. And Piran said
      O King, live for ever! There is but one road open unto thee. For
      this Prince is noble, and he hath done that which is right, for he
      would not give ear unto the evil designs of Kai Kaous, his father.
      Wherefore I counsel thee, receive him within thy courts, and give
      unto him a daughter in marriage, and let him be to thee a son; for
      verily, when Kai Kaous shall die, he will mount upon the throne of
      Iran, and thus may the hate of old be quenched in love.

Now Afrasiyab, when he had listened to the words of Piran, knew that they
were good. So he sent for a scribe, and dictated a writing unto Saiawush. And
he said unto him how the land was open to receive him, and how he would be
to him a father, and how he should find in Turan the love that was denied of
Kai Kaous. And he said

     I will demand of thee nought but what is good, neither will I suffer
     suspicion against thee to enter my soul.

Then he sealed the letter with his royal seal, and gave it unto Zengueh the
messenger, and bade him depart there with speed. And Saiawush, when he had
read it, was glad, and yet he was also troubled in his spirit, for his heart was
sore because he was forced to make a friend of the foe of his land. Yet he saw
that it could in nowise be altered. So he wrote a letter to Kai Kaous, and he
told him therein how it seemed that he could not do that which was right in
his eyes, and he recalled unto him the troubles that were come upon him from
Sudaveh, and he said how he could not break an oath he had made. Then he
confided this writing unto Bahram, and he bade him take the lead of the army
till that Tus should be come forth from Iran. And when he had chosen out an
hundred warriors of renown from out the host, he departed with them across
the border.

Now when Tus arrived and learned what was come to pass, he was confounded;
and when tidings thereof reached Kai Kaous, he was struck down with dismay.
He cried out against Afrasiyab, and against Saiawush his son, and his anger was
kindled. Yet he refrained from combat, and his mouth was silent of war.

In the meantime Saiawush was come into Turan, and all the land had decked
itself to do him honour. And Piran came forth to greet him, and there followed
after him elephants, white of hue, richly caparisoned, laden with gifts. And
these he poured before Saiawush, and gave him welcome. And he told him how
Afrasiyab yearned to look upon his face, and he said

     Turn thee in amity unto the King, and let not thy mind be troubled
     concerning that which thou hast heard about him. For Afrasiyab
     hath an ill fame, but he deserveth it not, for he is good.

Then Piran led Saiawush before Afrasiyab. And when Afrasiyab saw him, he
rejoiced at his strength and his beauty, and his heart went out towards him,
and he embraced him, and spake, saying

     The evil that hath disturbed the world is quieted, and the lamb and
     the leopard can feed together, for now is there friendship between
     our lands.

Then he called down blessings upon the head of Saiawush, and he took him by
the hand and seated him beside him on the throne. And he turned to Piran,
and said

     Kai Kaous is a man void of sense, or surely he would not suffer a
     son like unto this to depart from out his sight.

And Afrasiyab could not cease from gazing upon Saiawush, and all that he had
he placed it at his command. He gave to him a palace, and rich brocades,
106                                                 CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

and jewels and gold past the counting; and he prepared for him a feast, and
there were played the games of skill, and Saiawush showed his prowess before
Afrasiyab. And the sight of Saiawush became a light to the eyes of the King
of Turan and a joy unto his heart, and he loved him like to a father. And
Saiawush abode within his courts many days, and in gladness and in sorrow,
in gaiety or in sadness, Afrasiyab would have none other about him. And the
name of Saiawush abode ever upon his lips. And in this wise there rolled twelve
moons over their heads, and in the end Saiawush took unto himself to wife the
daughter of Piran the Pehliva. And yet again the heavens revolved above his
head, and he continued to abide within the house of Afrasiyab. Then Piran gave
counsel unto Saiawush that he should ask of Afrasiyab the hand of his daughter
to wife. For he said
      Thy home is now in Turan, wherefore it behoveth thee to establish
      thy might; and if Afrasiyab be thy father indeed, there can no hurt
      come near to thee. And peradventure, if a son be born unto thee of
      the daughter of Afrasiyab, he will bind up for ever the enmity of the
And Saiawush listened to the counsel of Piran, for he knew that it was good, and
he asked the hand of Ferangis of her father, and Afrasiyab gave it to him with
great joy. Then a mighty feast was made for the bridal, and Afrasiyab poured
gifts upon Saiawush past the telling, and he bestowed on him a kingdom and a
throne, and he blessed him as his son; and when at length he suffered him to
go forth unto his realm, he sorrowed sore at his loss.

Now the space of one year did Saiawush abide in his province, and at the end
thereof, when he had visited its breadth, he builded for himself a city in the
midst. And he named it Gangdis, and it was a place of beauty, such as the world
hath not seen the like. And Saiawush built houses and planted trees without
number, and he also caused an open space to be made wherein men could rejoice
in the game of ball. And he was glad in the possession of this city, and all men
around him rejoiced, and the earth was the happier for his presence, and there
was no cloud upon the heaven of his life. Yet the Mubids told unto him that
Gangdis would lead to his ill-fortune, and Saiawush was afflicted thereat. But
when a little time was sped and he beheld no evil, he put from him their words,
and he rejoiced in the time that was; and he was glad in the house of his women,
and he put his trust in Afrasiyab.

But that which is written in the stars, surely it must be accomplished! So
it came about after many years that Gersiwaz was jealous of the love which
Afrasiyab his brother bare unto Saiawush, and of the power that was his; and
he pondered in his heart how he might destroy him. Then he came before
Afrasiyab, and prayed the King that he would suffer him to go forth and visit
the city that Saiawush had builded, whereof the mouths of men ran over in
praises. And Afrasiyab granted his request, and bade him bear words of love
unto Saiawush his son. So Gersiwaz sped forth unto the city of Gangdis, and

the master thereof received him kindly, and asked him tidings of the King. And
he feasted him many days within his house, and he showed freely unto him all
that was his; and when he departed he heaped gifts upon his head, for he knew
not that Gersiwaz came in enmity unto him, and that these things but fanned
his envy.

Now when Gersiwaz returned unto Afrasiyab, the King questioned him con-
cerning his darling. Then Gersiwaz answered and said
     O King, he is no longer the man whom thou knewest. His spirit is
     uplifted in pride of might, and his heart goeth out towards Iran. And
     but that I should make my name to be infamous unto the nations, I
     would have hidden from thee this grief. But it behoveth me to tell
     unto thee that which I have seen and which mine ears have heard.
     For it hath been made known unto me that Saiawush is in treaty
     with his father, and that they seek to destroy thee utterly.
When Afrasiyab heard these words he would not let them take root in his spirit,
yet he could not refuse countenance to the testimony of his brother. And he was
sad, and spake not, and Gersiwaz knew not whether the seeds he had strewn
had taken root. So when a few days were gone by he came again before the
King and repeated unto him the charges that he had made, and he urged him
to act, and suffer not Turan to be disgraced. Then Afrasiyab was caught in the
meshes of the net that Gersiwaz had spread. And he bade Gersiwaz go forth
and summon Saiawush unto his courts, and invite him to bring the daughter of
Afrasiyab to feast with her father. And Gersiwaz sped forth with gladness, and
delivered the message of Afrasiyab unto the young King. Then Saiawush said
     I am ready to do the will of Afrasiyab, and the bridle of my horse is
     tied unto thy charger.

Then Gersiwaz thought within him, If Saiawush come into the presence of
Afrasiyab, his courage and open spirit will give the lie unto my words.

So he feigned before Saiawush a great sorrow, and when the King questioned
him thereof he consented to pour out before him the griefs of his spirit. And he
said to him how that he loved him tenderly, and how he was in sorrow for his
sake, because that the ear of Afrasiyab had been poisoned against him, and he
counselled him that he should not seek the courts of the King. And he said
     Suffer me to return alone, and I will soften the heart of Afrasiyab
     towards thee; and when he shall be returned unto a right spirit, I
     will summon thee forth unto his house.
Now Saiawush, who was true and void of guile, listened unto these words, for
he knew not that they were false. So he sent words of greeting and of excuse
unto Afrasiyab, and he said that he could not quit the chamber of Ferangis,
for she was sick and chained unto her couch. And Gersiwaz rode forth bearing
108                                                 CHAPTER 9. SAIAWUSH

the letter, and he sware unto Saiawush that he would cement the peace that
was broken. But when he came unto Afrasiyab he delivered not the writing,
but spake evil things of Saiawush, and maligned him. And he fed the anger of
Afrasiyab, until the King commanded that the army be led forth to go against
Saiawush his friend, and he took the lead thereof himself.

Now when the men of Turan came nigh unto the city that Saiawush had builded,
Gersiwaz sent an envoy unto Saiawush, saying

      Flee, I counsel thee, for my words have availed nought, and Afrasiyab
      cometh forth in enmity against thee.

When Saiawush learned this he was sore downcast in his spirit, and he went
unto Ferangis and charged her how she should act when he should be fallen by
the hands of Afrasiyab, for he held it vile to go forth in combat with one who
had been to him a father. So he made ready his house for death. Now when
he came to his steed of battle he pressed its head unto his breast, and he wept
over it and spake into its ear. And he said

      Listen, O my horse, and be brave and prudent; neither attach thyself
      unto any man until the day that Kai Khosrau, my son, shall arise
      to avenge me. From him alone receive the saddle and the rein.

Then he bade the men of Iran that were about him go back unto their land,
and when all was ready he went forth beyond the gates. But even yet he hoped
to turn from him the suspicions of Afrasiyab, and he would not suffer his men
to offer combat unto the men of Turan. So he went before Afrasiyab, and ques-
tioned him wherefore he was come out in anger against him. Now Gersiwaz
suffered not Afrasiyab to reply, but heaped reproaches upon Saiawush, and said
that he had received him vilely, and that he had slandered his benefactor. And
Saiawush, when he had listened, was confounded, and in vain did he strive to
bear down the upbraiding of his foe. For the heart of Afrasiyab was angered
yet the more, now that his eyes rested yet again upon the face of Saiawush,
whom he loved, because he deemed that he must give credit unto the words of
his brother, and because distrust of Iran was graven in his soul. So he hardened
himself against the speech of Saiawush, and he bade the army fall upon his
beloved. But Saiawush remembered his oath, and he stretched not forth his
hand against Afrasiyab, neither did he defend himself from the assaults of his
men, and he bade the warriors that were with him that they unsheathe not the
sword. So speedily were they mown down, and their bodies lay round about
Saiawush their King. And when all were slain a knight stretched out his hand
against Saiawush, yet he slew him not, but bound him with cords, and led him
before Afrasiyab the King. And Afrasiyab commanded that Saiawush be led
forth into a desert place, and that his head be severed from off his trunk. Now
the army murmured when they heard this command, and beheld the beauty of
Saiawush and his face of truth, and there stepped forth one from among the
nobles to plead for him. But Gersiwaz would not suffer the heart of Afrasiyab

to be softened.

Now while Gersiwaz yet spake evil of the young King, there came forth from
the house of the women Ferangis, the daughter of Afrasiyab, and she demanded
audience of her father. And when he would have denied it, she forced herself
into his presence, and she pleaded for her lord, and she sware that evil tongues
had maligned him, and she entreated of her father that he would not destroy
the joy he had given to her. And she said
     Listen, O King! if thou destroyest Saiawush, thou becomest a foe
     unto thyself. Deliver not by thy folly the land of Turan unto the
     winds, and remember the deeds that have been done of Iran in the
     days that are gone by. An avenger will arise from out the midst of
     the Kaianides. Mayest thou never recall my counsel too late.
But the world grew dark before the eyes of Afrasiyab with anger. And he spake,
and said
     Go hence, and trouble not again my face; for how canst thou judge
     of that which is right?
Then he commanded that she should be bound, and cast into a dungeon.

Now Gersiwaz, when he beheld the anger of the King, deemed that the time was
ripe. He therefore gave a sign unto the men that held Saiawush in bondage, and
desired that they should slay him. And by the hairs of his head they dragged
him unto a desert place, and the sword of Gersiwaz was planted in the breast
of the royal cedar. But when it was done, and they had severed the head from
the trunk, a mighty storm arose over the earth, and the heavens were darkened.
Then they trembled and were sore afraid, and repented them of their deed. And
clamour arose in the house of Saiawush, and the cries of Ferangis reached even
unto Afrasiyab her father. Then the King commanded that she should be killed
also. But Piran spake, and said
     Not so, wicked and foolish man. Wouldst thou lift thine hand against
     thine offspring, and hast thou not done enough that is evil? Shed
     not, I counsel thee, the blood of yet another innocent. But if thou
     desire to look no more upon Ferangis, I pray thee confide her unto
     me, that she may be to me a daughter in my house, and I will guard
     her from sorrow.
Then Afrasiyab said, Do that which seemeth best in thy sight.

And he was glad in his heart, for he desired not to look upon the face that
should recall to him the friend that he had loved. So Piran took Ferangis unto
his house beyond the mountains, and Afrasiyab returned unto his courts. But
the King was sorrowful in his spirit and unquiet in his heart, and he could not
cease from thinking of Saiawush, and he repented of that which he had done.
Chapter 10


I        N a little time it came about that there was born unto Ferangis, in the
house of Piran, a son of the race of Saiawush. And Piran, when he had seen
the babe, goodly of mien, who already in his cradle was like unto a king, sware
a great oath that Afrasiyab should not destroy it. And when he went before
the King to tell unto him the tidings, he pleaded for him with his lips. Now
the heart of Afrasiyab had been softened in his sorrow for Saiawush, wherefore
he shut his ear unto the evil counsellors that bade him destroy the babe which
should bring vengeance upon Turan. And he said
     I repent me of mine evil deed unto Saiawush, and though it be
     written that much evil shall come upon me from this child sprung
     from the loins of Tur and Kai Kobad, I will strive no more to hinder
     the decree of the stars; let him, therefore, be reared unto manhood.
     Yet I pray that he be brought up among shepherds in the mountains
     far from the haunts of men, and that his birth be hidden from him,
     that he may not learn of his father or of the cruel things I did unto
And Piran consented unto the desires of Afrasiyab, and he rejoiced because he
had spared the babe. Then he took the infant from its mother and bare it unto
the mountains of Kalun, and confided the boy unto the shepherds of the flocks.
And he said
     Guard this child even as your souls, so that neither rain nor dust
     come near him.
Thus it came about that no man knew of the babe, neither did Ferangis know
whither it was vanished. But oftentimes was Piran sore disturbed in his spirit,

112                      CHAPTER 10. THE RETURN OF KAI KHOSRAU

for he knew that the beginning of strife was yet to come, and that much evil
must befall Turan from this infant. Yet he forgot not his promise of protection
given unto Saiawush his friend, whom he had led to put his trust in Afrasiyab.
So he quieted his spirit from thinking, for he knew that no man can change the
course of the stars.

Now when some time was passed the shepherds came out to Piran and told
him how they could not restrain this boy, whose valour was like to that of a
king. Then Piran went forth to visit Kai Khosrau, and he was amazed when he
looked upon him and beheld his beauty and his strength, and he pressed him
unto his heart with tenderness. Then Kai Khosrau said

      O thou that bearest high thy head, art thou not ashamed to press
      unto thee the son of a shepherd?

But Piran was inflamed with love for the boy, so he pondered not his words,
but said

O heir of kings, thou art not the son of a shepherd. Then he told him of his
birth, and clad him in robes befitting his station, and took him back with him
unto his house. And henceforward was Kai Khosrau reared in the bosom of
Piran and of Ferangis his mother. And the days rolled above their heads in

Then it came about one night that Piran was awakened by a messenger from
Afrasiyab the King. And the King bade Piran come before him. And when he
was come unto him, he said

      My heart is disquieted because of the child of Saiawush, and I repent
      me of my weakness which kept him alive; for in my dreams I have
      beheld that he will do much evil unto Turan. Wherefore I would
      now slay him to avert calamity.

Then Piran, wise in counsel, opened his mouth before Afrasiyab and spake,

      O King, disquiet not thyself because of this boy, for he is devoid
      of wit; and though his face be like unto that of a Peri, his head,
      which should bear a crown, is empty of reason. Commit, therefore,
      no violence, but suffer that this innocent continue to dwell among
      the flocks.

Afrasiyab, when he had listened to these words of wile, was comforted; yet he

      Send Kai Khosrau before me, that I may behold with mine eyes his

And Piran assented to his request, because he ventured not to gainsay it. So he
returned him unto his house and sought out the boy, and told him how he should
disguise his wit before the King. Then he led him unto the court mounted upon
a goodly charger, and all the people shouted when they beheld his beauty and
his kingly mien. And Afrasiyab too was confounded at his aspect, and he gazed
with wonder at his limbs of power, and he strove to remember the promise that
he had given unto Piran that he would not hurt a hair of the head of this boy.
Then he began to question him that he might search his spirit. And he said
     Young shepherd, how knowest thou the day from the night? What
     doest thou with thy flocks? How countest thou thy sheep and thy
And Kai Khosrau replied
     There is no game, and I have neither cords nor bow and arrows.
Then the King questioned him concerning the milk that was given of the herds.
And Kai Khosrau said
     The tiger-cats are dangerous and have mighty claws.
Then Afrasiyab put to him yet a third question, and he asked of him
     What is the name of thy mother?
And Kai Khosrau answered and said-
     The dog ventureth not to bark when a lion threateneth him.
Then Afrasiyab asked him yet again whether he desired to go forth into the land
of Iran and be avenged upon his enemies. And Kai Khosrau answered and said
     When a leopard appeareth, the heart of a brave man is torn with
And Afrasiyab smiled at these answers and questioned him no further. And he
said unto Piran
     Restore the boy unto his mother, and let him be reared with kindness
     in the city that Saiawush hath builded, for I behold that from him
     can no harm alight upon Turan.
When Piran heard these words he hastened to remove Kai Khosrau from the
court, and his heart was glad because of the danger that had passed by. So
Kai Khosrau was reared in the house of his father, and Ferangis spake unto
him of Saiawush and of the vengeance that was due. And she instructed him
concerning the heroes of Iran and their deeds of prowess, as she had learned
them from Saiawush her lord.

In the mean season Kai Kaous had learned of the death of Saiawush his son,
114                      CHAPTER 10. THE RETURN OF KAI KHOSRAU

and a mighty wailing went forth throughout the land of Iran, so that even
the nightingale in the cypress was silent of her song, and the leaves of the
pomegranate tree in the forest were withered for sorrow. And the heroes that
stood about the throne of Kai Kaous clad themselves in the garb of woe, and
bare dust upon their heads in place of helmets. And Rustem, when he learned
of it, was bowed to the earth with agony, and for seven days he stirred not from
the ground, neither would he let food or comfort come near him. But on the
eighth he roused him from the earth, and caused the trumpets of brass to be
sounded into the air. And he assembled his warriors, and marched with them
into Iran, and he came before Kai Kaous and demanded audience.

Now when he was come into the presence-chamber he found the Shah seated
upon his throne. He was clothed in dust from his head unto his feet, because
of his grief. But Rustem regarded it not, and straightway reproached him, and

      O King of evil nature, behold the harvest that is sprung from the seed
      that thou didst sow! The love of Sudaveh and her vile intents have
      torn from off thy head the diadem of kings, and Iran hath suffered
      cruel loss because of thy folly and thy suspicions. It is better for a
      king that he be laid within his shroud than that he be given over to
      the dominion of a woman. Alas for Saiawush! Was ever hero like
      unto him? And henceforward I will know neither rest nor joy until
      his cruel death be avenged.

When Kai Kaous had listened to the words of his Pehliva, the colour of shame
mounted into his cheek, but he held his peace, for he knew that the words
spoken of Rustem were deserved. Then Rustem, when he saw that the King
answered him not, strode out from his presence. And he went into the house of
the women, and sought for Sudaveh, who had given over Saiawush unto death.
And when he had found her, he tore her from off her throne, and he plunged
his dagger into her heart, and he quitted her not until the life was gone from
her. And Kai Kaous, when he learned it, trembled and was afraid, for he dared
not oppose himself unto Rustem. Then Rustem commanded that the army of
vengeance be made ready. And he said

      I will make the earth to tremble before my mace, as it shall tremble
      on the day of judgment.

And when all was prepared they made them haste to be gone, and the air was
full of the gleaming of armour, and the rattling of drums was heard on all sides.

Now when Afrasiyab learned that a great army was come forth from Iran to
avenge the death of Saiawush, he bade Sarkha, the best beloved of his sons,
lead forth the hosts of Turan against them. But he craved Sarkha have a care
that Rustem, the son of Zal, put not his life in danger. And Sarkha set forth,
bearing aloft the black banner of Turan, and he went towards the plains where

Rustem was encamped. Now when the armies beheld one another, their hearts
were inflamed, and the battle raged sore, and many were the brave heads laid
low on that day. And Sarkha fell into the hands of Rustem, and he spared him
not, because he was the best beloved son of Afrasiyab. So he gave orders that
Sarkha be slain, even as Saiawush was slain, that the heart of his enemy might
be rent with anguish.

And when Afrasiyab learned it he was beside himself with grief. And when
he had torn his hair and wailed in the dust for his son, he arose to go forth unto
the army, that he might avenge his death. And he said unto his knights
     Henceforth ye must not think of sleep or hunger, neither must ye
     breathe aught but vengeance, for I will never stay my hand until
     this murder be avenged.
Now when the army that was with Afrasiyab came nigh unto Rustem, Pilsam,
that was brother to Piran, a warrior valiant and true, challenged Rustem unto
single combat. Then Piran sought to stay him because of his youth, but Pilsam
listened not unto his counsel. So Rustem came forth against him, and he was
armed with a stout lance, and he was wrapped about with his anger. And he
fell upon Pilsam with fury, and he lifted him from his saddle, and he took him
by the girdle and flung him, as a thing that is vile, into the midst of the camp
of the Turanians. Then he shouted with a voice of thunder
     I counsel you, wrap ye this man in robes of gold, for my mace hath
     made him blue.
Now when the Turanians beheld that Pilsam was dead, they wept sore, and
their courage departed from out of them. And in vain did Afrasiyab pray them
to keep their hearts. Yet he said within himself
     The good fortune that watched over me is asleep.
And when they were met in battle yet again, and the army of Rustem had
beaten down once more that of Afrasiyab, the King bethought him of flight.
And the hosts of Turan vanished like to the wind, but they left behind them
much riches and goodly treasure.

Now while they were flying from the face of Rustem, Afrasiyab said unto Piran
     Counsel me how I shall act concerning this child of Saiawush.
And Piran said, Haste not to put him to death, for he shall in nowise do thee
hurt. But if thou wilt listen unto my voice, send him far into Khoten, that he
be hidden from sight, and that the men of Iran learn not of his being.

And Afrasiyab did as Piran counselled, and a messenger was sent forth to lead
out the young King and his mother unto the land of Cathay. And Afrasiyab
himself fled until that he came within the borders of China, and no man knew
116                      CHAPTER 10. THE RETURN OF KAI KHOSRAU

where he was hidden. And the land of Turan was given over to plunder, and the
Iranians scathed it with fire and sword because of Saiawush, whom Afrasiyab
had foully slain. And Rustem seated himself in the seat of Afrasiyab, and for
the space of seven years did he rule over the land. But in the eighth messengers
came out to him, and said how that Kai Kaous was without a guide in Iran, and
how they feared lest folly might result from his deeds. So Rustem went forth to
stand beside his Shah.

Now when Afrasiyab learned that Rustem was departed out of the land of
Turan, his fears forsook him, and he gathered together a mighty army, and he
fell upon his borders, and he regained them unto himself. And he wept when
he beheld the havoc that was come upon Turan, and he incited his army to be
avenged. So they fell into Iran, and shattered its host, and they suffered not
that repose come near unto their foes. And they pursued them with fire and
sword, and laid waste their fields. And during seven years the heavens withheld
their rains, and good fortune was turned away from Iran, and the prosperity of
the land was quenched. And men groaned sore under these misfortunes, neither
did Rustem come forth from Zaboulistan unto their aid.

Then it came about one night that Gudarz, who was descended from Kawah the
smith, dreamed a dream. He beheld a cloud heavy with rain, and on the cloud
was seated the Serosch the blessed. And the angel of God said unto Gudarz
      Open thine ears, if thou wilt deliver thy land from anguish, and from
      Afrasiyab the Turk. There abideth in Turan the son of a noble race,
      an issue sprung from the loins of Saiawush, who is brave, and beareth
      high his head. And he is sprung from Kai Kobad and from Tur, and
      from him alone can deliverance come to Iran. Suffer, therefore, that
      Gew, thy son, go forth in search of Kai Khosrau, and bid him remain
      in his saddle until he shall have found this boy. For such is the will
      of Ormuzd.
When Gudarz awoke, he thanked God for his dream, and touched the ground
with his white beard. And when the sun was risen and had chased away the
ravens of night, he called before him his son, and he spake to him of his dream.
And he commanded him that he go forth to do the behests of God.

And Gew said, I will obey thine orders while I live.

Then Gudarz said, What companions wilt thou take with thee?

And Gew said, My cord and my horse will suffice unto me for company, for
it is best to take none with me into Turan. For behold, if I lead out an host,
men will ask what I am, and wherefore I come forth; but if I go alone, their
doubts will slumber.

Then Gudarz said, Go, and peace be upon thee.

So Gew made ready his steed, and when he had bidden farewell unto the old
man his father, he set out upon his travels. And wherever he met a man walking
alone, he questioned him concerning Kai Khosrau; and if the man knew not the
name, he struck off his head, that none might learn his secret or wherefore he
was come forth.

Now Gew wandered thus many days throughout the length of Turan, like to a
man distraught, and he could learn nought concerning Kai Khosrau, the young
king. And seven years rolled thus above his head, and he grew lean and sor-
rowful. And for house he had nought save only his saddle, and for nourishment
and clothing the flesh and skin of the wild ass, and in place of wine he had only
bad water. And he began to be downcast in his spirit, and afraid lest the dream
dreamed of his father had been sent unto him by a Deev. Now it came about
one day that while he pondered thus he entered a forest, and when he was come
into its midst, he beheld therein a fountain, and a young man, slim as a cypress,
seated beside it. And the youth held in his hand a wine-cup, and on his head
was a crown of flowers, and his mien was such that the soul of Gew rejoiced
thereat, and the door of his cares was loosened. And he said within himself
     If this be not the King, then must I abandon my search, for I think
     to behold in him the face of Saiawush.
Then he went nigh unto him.

Now when Kai Khosrau beheld the warrior, he smiled and said
     O Gew, thou art welcome unto my sight, since thou art come hither
     at the behest of God. Tell unto me now, I pray thee, tidings of
     Tus and Gudarz, of Rustem, and of Kai Kaous the King. Are they
     happy? Do they know of Kai Khosrau?
When Gew heard this speech, he was confounded; and when he had returned
thanks unto God, he opened his mouth and spake, saying
     O young King, who bearest high thy head, reveal unto me who hath
     told thee of Gudarz and of Tus, of Rustem and of Kai Kaous, and
     how knowest thou my name and aspect.
Then Kai Khosrau said, My mother hath told me of the things which she learned
of my father. For I am son unto Saiawush, and before he entered upon death
he foretold unto Ferangis how Gew would come forth from Iran to lead me unto
the throne.

Then Gew said, Prove unto me thy words. Suffer that mine eyes behold the
mark of the Kaianides which thou bearest about thy body.

Then Kai Khosrau uncovered his arm, and when Gew looked upon the mark
118                      CHAPTER 10. THE RETURN OF KAI KHOSRAU

that was borne of all the royal house since the time of Kai Kobad, he fell down
upon the ground and did homage before this youth. But Kai Khosrau raised him
from the dust and embraced him, and questioned him concerning his journey
and the hardships he had passed through. Then Gew mounted the young King
upon his charger, and he walked before him bearing an Indian sword unsheathed
in his hand. And they journeyed until they came to the city that Saiawush had

Now when Ferangis saw them she received them joyfully, for her quick spirit
divined what was come to pass. But she counselled them to tarry not in what-
soever they would do. For she said

      When Afrasiyab shall learn of this he will neither eat nor sleep, he
      will send out an army against us. Let us flee, therefore, before he
      cometh. And listen now unto the words that I shall speak. Go forth
      unto the mountain that is raised unto the clouds, and take with thee
      a saddle and a bridle. And when thou shalt have scaled its crest thou
      wilt behold a meadow green as a paradise, and browsing upon it the
      flocks of Saiawush. And in their midst will be Behzah the steed of
      battle. Go nigh unto him, my son, and embrace him, and whisper
      thy name into his ear; and when he shall have heard it he will suffer
      thee to mount him, and seated upon him thou shalt escape from the
      slayer of thy father.

Then Gew and Kai Khosrau went out and did as Ferangis told unto them; and
they found the steed, and when Behzah beheld the saddle of Saiawush and the
leopard-skin he had worn, he sighed, and his eyes were filled with tears. Then
he suffered Kai Khosrau to mount him, and they turned back unto Ferangis.
And she chose forth the armour of Saiawush from among her treasures and gave
it to her son, and she clad herself in mail of Roum like unto a warrior, and she
sprang upon a horse of battle, and when all was done they set forth to fly from
the land of Afrasiyab.

Now one brought tidings unto Piran of these things, and he was dismayed
thereat, for he said

      Now will be accomplished the fears of Afrasiyab, and mine honour
      will be tarnished in his eyes.

So he bade Kelbad and three hundred valiant knights pursue Kai Khosrau and
bind him and bring him back in chains.

Now Ferangis and her son slept for weariness by the roadside, but Gew held
guard over them. And when he beheld Kelbad and the men that were with him,
he knew that they were come in pursuit; yet he awakened not Kai Khosrau, but
of his strength alone put them to flight. But when they were gone he roused
the sleepers, and he urged haste upon them.

But Piran, when he beheld that Kelbad returned unto him defeated at the
hand of one man, was loath to credit it, and he was angered against him, and
said that he would go forth himself. So Piran made him ready, and a thousand
brave warriors went with him. For Piran was afraid of the anger of Afrasiyab,
and that he would put this flight unto his account, and not unto that of the
rotation of the stars. Now when he was come unto the fugitives Gew and the
young King slumbered, but Ferangis was keeping watch. And when she beheld
the army she woke them and bade them prepare for combat; but Gew suffered
not that Kai Khosrau should go forth, for he said
     If I fall, what mattereth that? my father hath seventy and eight
     sons like unto me; but thou art alone, and if thy head shall fall,
     what other is worthy of the crown?
And Kai Khosrau did as Gew desired. Then Gew gave combat unto Piran,
and by his courage he overcame the army; and he caught the old man Piran in
the meshes of his cord. Then he brought him bound before Ferangis and Kai
Khosrau her son.

Now Piran, when he beheld Kai Khosrau, demanded not mercy at his hands,
but invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his head, and he mourned the fate of
Saiawush. And he said
     O King, had thy slave been nigh unto Afrasiyab, surely the head of
     thy father would not have fallen at his hands. And it was I who
     preserved thee and Ferangis thy mother, yet now is it given unto me
     to fall under thy hands.
When Kai Khosrau heard these words his heart went out unto Piran, and when
he looked towards his mother he saw that her eyes were filled with tears. Then
she opened her mouth and poured forth curses upon Afrasiyab her father, and
she wailed the fate of Saiawush, and she pleaded for the life of this good old
man. For she said
     His tenderness hath been an asylum unto our sorrow, and now is
     it given unto us to remember the benefits we have received at his
But Gew, when he heard it, said
     O Queen, I pray thee speak not thus, for I have sworn a great oath
     that I would stain the earth with the blood of Piran, and how can I
     depart from my vow?
Then Kai Khosrau said, O hero like unto a lion, thou shalt not break the oath
that thou hast made before God. Satisfy thy heart and accomplish thy vow.
Pierce with thy dagger the ear of Piran, and let his blood fall on the earth, that
thy vengeance and my clemency may both be satisfied.
120                      CHAPTER 10. THE RETURN OF KAI KHOSRAU

Then Gew did as Kai Khosrau bade, and when he had crimsoned the earth
with the blood of Piran, they mounted him upon a charger fleet of foot and
bound him thereon, and caused him to swear unto them that none other but
Gulshehr his wife should release him from these bonds. And Piran sware it and
went forth, and his mouth poured blessings upon Kai Khosrau.

Now while these things were passing Afrasiyab grew impatient, and set forth
himself at the head of a great army that he might learn tidings of Kai Khosrau.
And when he heard that the armies had been beaten at the hand of one man,
his cheeks grew pale with fear; but when he met Piran his Pehliva tied upon his
charger, his anger knew no bounds, so that he cried aloud, and commanded Pi-
ran that he depart from out his presence. Then he sware that he would himself
destroy this Gew, and lay low the head of Kai Khosrau and of his mother. And
he made great haste after them, and he urged upon his men that they must find
Kai Khosrau before he should have crossed the Jihun and have entered upon
the land of Iran; yet before ever he was come nigh to them, the three were come
unto its banks.

Now, a boat was lying ready, and a boatman slumbered beside it; and Gew
roused him, and said that he should bear them across the river. But the man
was greedy of gain, and beheld that Gew was in haste. So he said

Why should I carry thee across? Yet, if thou desire it, I demand that thou
give unto me one of four things: thy coat of mail, or thy black horse, yon
woman, or the crown of gold worn by this young man.

Then Gew was angry, and said

      Thou speakest like a fool; thou knowest not what thou dost ask.

Then he turned unto Kai Khosrau, and said

      If thou be Kai Khosrau indeed, thou wilt not fear to enter this river
      and cross it, even as it was crossed by Feridoun thy sire.

Now the river was swollen with the rains, but the young King regarded it not.
He entered upon its surge with Behzah his steed, and the horse of his father
bare him across the boiling waters. And Ferangis followed after him and Gew
the bold. And when Kai Khosrau was come unto the other side, he dismounted
and knelt and kissed the ground of Iran, and gave thanks unto God the mighty.

Yet scarce were they come to the other side than Afrasiyab came up with his
army. And Afrasiyab demanded of the boatman wherefore he had borne them
across, and when the man told him how it was come to pass, the King was
bowed down with anguish, for he knew now that that which was written would
be accomplished. So he returned him right sorrowful unto his house.

Now when Kai Khosrau came nigh unto the courts of the Shah, Gew sent a
writing unto Kai Kaous and told him all that was come to pass. And Kai
Kaous sent forth riders to lead before him his son; and the city was decked to
give him welcome, and all the nobles received him joyfully, and Kai Kaous was
glad at the sight of him, and all men regarded Kai Khosrau as the heir, and
only Tus was sorrowful at that which was come to pass. But Tus was angered,
and said that he would pay homage only unto Friburz, and to none other. And
he came before Kai Kaous and said
     Friburz is thy son also, why therefore wilt thou give the crown unto
     one who is sprung from the race of Afrasiyab?
Then Gew said, It is fitting that the son of Saiawush should succeed unto the

But Tus listened not, and refused allegiance unto Kai Khosrau, and there was
strife among the nobles of Iran.

Then one came before Kai Kaous and begged of him that he would declare
himself, for he said
     If we are divided among ourselves we shall fall a prey into the hands
     of Afrasiyab. Let the Shah, therefore, bind up this quarrel.
Then Kai Kaous said, Ye ask of me that which is hard, for both my sons are
dear unto me, and how should I choose between them? Yet I will bethink me
of a means to quiet this dissension. Let Kai Khosrau and Friburz go forth unto
Bahman, the fortress that is upon my borders which no man hath conquered,
for it is an abode of Deevs, and fire issueth thence continually. And let them
take with them an army, and I will bestow my crown and my treasures upon
him at whose hands the castle shall be subdued.

So Friburz and Kai Khosrau set forth, and Kai Khosrau suffered that his el-
der take the lead. But in vain did Friburz strive against the Deevs that were
hidden behind the walls, and when seven days had passed he returned discom-
fited from his emprise. Then Kai Khosrau set forth, and he wrote a letter,
amber-perfumed, and in it he desired the evil Deevs that they give place unto
him in the name of Ormuzd. And he affixed the letter unto the point of his
lance, and when he was come nigh unto the burning fort he flung it beyond
the walls. Then a great noise rent the air like thunder, and the world became
darkened, and when the light returned unto the sky the castle was vanished
from off the face of the earth.

Now when Kai Kaous heard it, he knew that the son of Saiawush was learned
in the arts of magic, as was fitting unto a king; and he beheld also that he was
wise and brave. And because that he was weary he surrendered the throne unto
him, and Kai Khosrau wore the crown of the Kaianides in his stead.
Chapter 11


B         UT a little while had Kai Khosrau sat upon the throne of Iran, yet
the world resounded with his fame, and all men bare upon their lips the praises
of his wisdom. He cleansed the earth of the rust of care, and the power of
Afrasiyab was chained up. And men from all parts of the earth came forth to
do homage before him; and Rustem also, and Zal the aged, did obeisance at his
footstool. And there came with them an army that made the plains black like to
ebony, and the sounds of their war trumpets made the heart to tremble. Then
Kai Kaous made ready a great feast to do honour to his Pehliva. And when
they were seated thereat his mouth ran over with praises of Saiawush, and he
lamented the evil that he had done, and he poured maledictions upon the head
of Afrasiyab. And he spake unto Kai Khosrau his son, and said
     I demand of thee that thou swear before me a great oath, and that
     thou keep it carefully. Swear unto me that thy heart shall be ever
     filled with hatred of Afrasiyab, and that thou wilt not let this flame
     be quenched by the waters of forgetfulness, and that thou regard
     him not as the father of thy mother, and that thou think only of
     Saiawush thy sire, whom he hath slain. And swear unto me further
     that there shall be no other mediator between you save only the
     sword and the mace.
Then Kai Khosrau turned him towards the fire and sware the oath demanded
of his sire, and he vowed to keep it in the name of God the Most High. And
Kai Kaous caused the oath to be written on a royal scroll, and he confided it to
the care of Rustem his Pehliva. And when it was done they feasted seven days
without ceasing, but on the eighth Kai Khosrau mounted his throne. Then he
called about him his nobles, and he said unto them that the time was ripe to
avenge the death of his father, and he bade them make ready their armies, and
he told them how on a certain day they should lead them out before him.

124                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

Now when the day was come Kai Khosrau descended into the plains to re-
ceive them. And he was seated upon an elephant of war, and on his head he
wore the crown of might, and about his neck the chain of supremacy; and in his
hand he bare a mace of might, and on his arms were bracelets of great worth,
and precious stones were strewn about his garments. Now when he was come
into the midst of the camp he threw a ball of silver into a cup of gold. And
when the army heard the sound thereof they knew it to be the signal, and they
arose and passed before the Shah. And the first to come forth was the army of
Friburz. And Friburz was seated upon a horse of saffron hue, and he wore shoes
of gold upon his feet, and in his hands were a sword and a mace; and around
his saddle was rolled a cord of might, and over his head floated a banner the
colour of the sun. And Kai Khosrau, when he saw him, invoked blessings upon
his head. And there came after Friburz Gudarz the wise in counsel, and behind
him was borne a standard whereon was broidered a lion. And at his right hand
and his left marched his mighty sons, and a brave army followed after them.
And they did homage before the Shah, and Kai Khosrau regarded them kindly.
Then there came after them yet many other noble knights, eager for battle as a
bull whom no man hath put to flight, and the sounds of cymbals and the bells
of war-elephants filled the air, and lances and targets gleamed in the sun, and
banners of many hues streamed upon the breeze. And Kai Khosrau blessed his
heroes every one. Then he caused his treasurer to bring forth rich gifts of gold
and jewels and slaves, and brocades of Roum, and cloth of gold, and skins of
beaver. And they placed them before him, and he divided them into portions,
and he said they should be owned of those who should do feats of valour in
the war against Afrasiyab. Then he bade them to a great feast, and they made
merry in the house of the Shah.

But when the sun had unsheathed its sword of light and the sombre night was
fled in fear, Kai Khosrau commanded that the trumpets of departure sound.
Then the army came before the Shah, and he gave into the keeping of Tus the
standard of Kawah, and he bade him lead forth the hosts. And he said unto
      Be obedient unto my will and lead mine army aright. I desire of thee
      that thou avenge the death of my father, but I desire also that thou
      molest none but those that fight. Have mercy upon the labourer and
      spare the helpless. And furthermore, I charge thee that thou pass
      not through the land of Kelat, but that thou leave it on one side and
      take thy course through the desert. For in Kelat abideth Firoud my
      brother, who was born of the daughter of Piran, and he dwelleth in
      happiness, and I would not that sorrow come nigh unto him. And
      he knoweth no man in Iran, not even by name, and unto no man
      hath he done hurt, and I desire that no harm come to him.
And Tus said, I will remember thy will and take the road that thou commandest.

Then the army set forth towards Turan, and they marched many days until

they came to a spot where the roads parted. And the one led unto the desert,
arid and devoid of water, and the other led unto Kelat. Now when they were
come to the parting of the roads the army halted until Tus should have told
unto them which road they should follow. And when Tus came up he said unto

     The desert is void of water, and what shall we do deprived thereof,
     for the army sore needeth refreshment after its march of weariness?
     It is better, therefore, that we should take the road that leadeth to
     Kelat, and abide there a while that our men may be rested.
And Gudarz said, The King hath set thee at the head of his army, but I counsel
thee choose the path that he hath named, lest sorrow come upon thee.

But Tus laughed, and said, O noble hero, disquiet not thyself, for what I do is
pleasing in. the sight of the King.

Then he commanded the army that they march into Kelat, and he remem-
bered not the desires of Kai Khosrau.

Now when Firoud saw that the sky was darkened with dust from the feet of
dromedaries and elephants of battle, he called before him Tokhareh his coun-
sellor, and questioned him concerning these things. And Tokhareh said

     O young man, thou knowest not what is come to pass. This army
     pertaineth unto thy brother, and he hath sent it forth into Turan
     that the death of thy father be avenged; and it marcheth right upon
     Kelat, and I know not where the battle may take place.
Now Firoud, who was void of experience, was troubled when he learned this;
and he made safe his castle that was upon a high hill, and he gathered in his
flocks. Then he seated himself upon the ramparts and looked down over the sea
of armour that approached him. And when he had done so he went in before
his mother, who had never ceased from weeping for Saiawush her spouse. And
he told her what was come about, and he asked of her how he should act. Then
she said unto him

     Listen, O my son I There is a new Shah in Iran, and he is brother
     unto thee, for ye are sprung from one father. Now, since thy brother
     sendeth forth an host to avenge his murder, it beseemeth thee not to
     remain aloof, but rather shouldst thou serve as vanguard unto the
     host. Wherefore call together thy knights, and then go forth and
     seek out the leader of this host, and make thyself known to him. For
     it behoveth not a stranger to reap this glory or usurp the place that
     is due unto thy rank.
Then Firoud said, Who shall be my stay in battle among the heroes who carry
high their heads?
126                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

And his mother said, Seek out Bahram, for he was a friend unto thy father.
And listen also to the words of Tokhareh, and go not out at once with thine
army until thou hast made thyself known unto the men of Iran.

Then Firoud said, O my mother, I will faithfully observe thy counsel.

And he went forth unto a high place on the mountain, and he took with him
Tokhareh, and they looked down upon the mighty army that was spread at
their feet. Then Firoud questioned of the warriors, and Tokhareh answered him
according to his knowledge. And he counted up the standards of the heroes,
and he made Firoud acquainted with the names of might in Iran.

Now, while they were so doing, Tus beheld them upon the heights, and he
was angered at the sight of them, and said
      Let a wary knight go forth unto those two seated aloft, and search
      out what manner of men they be. And if they be of the army, let
      them be lashed two hundred times about the head; but if they be
      Turks and spies, bind them, and bring them before me that I may
      destroy them.
Then Bahram, the son of Gudarz, said, I will search into this matter.

And he rode forth towards the mountain. Now Firoud, beholding him, said
unto Tokhareh, Who is he that cometh out with so haughty an air? By his
bearing it would seem that he holdeth me of light esteem, and that he would
mount hither by force.

Then Tokhareh said, O Prince, be not angered thus easily. I know not his name,
but I seem to behold the device of Gudarz, and perchance this is one of his sons.

Now Bahram, when he had neared the summit, lifted up his voice, that was
like unto thunder, and cried, saying
      Who art thou that seatest thyself upon the heights and lookest down
      upon the army? Fearest thou not Tus the Pehliva?
Then Firoud answered and said
      Speak not unto me thus haughtily, for I have given thee no cause.
      Thinkest thou, perchance, that I am but a wild ass of the desert,
      and that thou art a lion, great of might? It behoveth a man of sense
      to put a bridle on his tongue. For I say unto thee, that thou art
      in nowise my better, neither in courage nor in might. Look upon
      me, and judge whether I have not head and heart and brain, and
      when thou shalt have seen that I possess them, threaten me not with
      empty words. I counsel this unto thee in friendship. And if thou
      wilt listen to reason, I will put some questions unto thee.

Then Bahram replied, Speak; thou art in the sky, and I am on the ground.

Then Firoud asked of him who were the chiefs of this army, and wherefore
they were come forth. And Bahram named unto him the names of might. Then
Firoud said unto him
     Why hast thou not spoken the name of Bahram? There is none
     among all the host of Iran that mine eyes would rather look upon.
Then Bahram said, O youth, say unto me who hath spoken unto thee thus of
Bahram, and who hath made thee acquainted with Gudarz and Gew.

Then Firoud said, My mother hath made them known unto me, and she bade
me seek out Bahram from among this host, because that he was foster-brother
unto my father.

Then Bahram spake, and said, Verily thou are Firoud, of the seed of Saiawush.

And Firoud answered, Thou hast said. I am a branch of the cypress that was
struck down.

Then Bahram said, Uncover thine arm, that I may behold the mark of the

And Firoud did so, and Bahram beheld the mark. Then he knew that Firoud
was of the race of Kai Kobad, and he did homage before him, and he drew nigh
unto him on the mountain. Then Firoud laid bare before Bahram his desires,
and he said how that he would make a great feast unto the army in his house,
and how, when this was done, he desired to take the lead and march with it
into Turan, and he craved Bahram to bear his words of greeting unto Tus. And
Bahram said
     O Prince, brave and young, I will bear thy message unto Tus, and I
     will implore of him that he listen to thy voice. Yet because he is a
     man easily angered, I fear the answer he may return. For though he
     be valiant, yet is he also vain, and he cannot forget that he is sprung
     from the race of the Kaianides, and he deemeth ever that the first
     place pertaineth unto him.
Then Bahram told Firoud wherefore he had been sent forth by Tus, and he
departed from him, saying
     If Tus hearken unto my voice, I will return unto thee; but if thou
     beholdest another, confide not thyself to him.
Then he departed, and came before Tus, and related to him all that he had
heard. And Tus was beside himself with anger, and he cried out against this
young man, and questioned wherefore he would usurp his place. And he up-
braided Bahram for that which he had done, and he refused to give credit unto
128                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

his words, and he sware that he would cause this youth to perish. And he called
upon his warriors, and bade them go forth and sever the head of this Turk. But
Bahram said unto them
      Ye know not that he sendeth you forth against Firoud, who is brother
      unto Kai Khosrau, and sprung from the seed of Saiawush. I counsel
      you have the fear of the Shah before your eyes, and lift not your
      hands in injustice against his brother.
When the warriors heard these words, they retreated back into the tents. But
Tus was angered exceedingly, and he commanded yet again that one should go
forth to do his behests. Then Rivniz, who was husband unto the daughter of
Tus, said that he would do his desires. So he rode forth unto the mountain.

Now when Firoud beheld a horseman, who brandished aloft his sword in en-
mity, he said unto Tokhareh
      Tus despiseth my words, and since Bahram cometh not back, my
      heart is disquieted. Look, I pray thee, if thou canst tell unto me
      what noble this may be.
And Tokhareh said, It is Rivniz, a knight of great cunning, son unto Tus, whose
daughter he hath in marriage.

Then Firoud asked, saying, Since he attacketh me, whom shall I slay-the steed
or its rider?

And Tokhareh said, Direct thine arms against the man, then perchance, when
Tus shall learn of his death, he will repent him that he listened not unto thy
words of peace.

So Firoud bent his bow and shot Rivniz through the breast. And he fell dead
from off his saddle, and his horse turned him back in terror unto the camp.
Now when Tus beheld the horse that was come back without its rider, he knew
what was come to pass, and his anger against Firoud burned yet the more. So
he called unto him Zerasp his son, and bade him go forth and avenge the blood
of Rivniz. And when Firoud saw him approach, he asked yet again the name of
his foe, and he prepared his bow, that Tus might learn that he was a man that
should not be treated with dishonour. And when Zerasp would have fought with
him, he pinned him dead unto his saddle. And the horse sped back with him
into the camp, so that Tus saw that which was come about. Then his fury knew
no limit, and he sprang upon his charger, and he set forth himself against Firoud.

Now when Tokhareh beheld it, he said unto Firoud
      Tus himself is come forth to combat thee, and thou canst not stand
      against this crocodile. Retreat, therefore, I counsel thee, into thy
      castle, and let us await the decrees of the stars.

But Firoud answered in anger, Who is Tus, that I should fear him? I will not
flee from his presence.

Then Tokhareh said, If thou be resolved to do battle with this lion, I coun-
sel thee that thou destroy him not, lest thy brother be angered if the leader
of his host perish by thy hand. Moreover, the army will come forth to avenge
him, and how canst thou stand against an host? Direct thine arrows, therefore,
against his charger, for a prince fighteth not on foot. if, therefore, thou kill his
horse from Under him, thou wilt have shown unto him thy skill.

Then Firoud did as Tokhareh counselled, and the arrow was faithful to its aim,
and he shot the horse of Tus from under him, and laid the charger low upon the
ground. And Tus had to turn him back on foot unto his camp, and rage against
Firoud burned in his spirit. And the nobles, when they beheld their Pehliva
treated thus with contempt,were angry also, and Gew said

      Who is this young man, that he despiseth an army, and how may he
      treat us with disdain? Though he be of the race of the Kaianides,
      and of the seed of Kai Kobad, he hath opened a door, and knoweth
      not whither it leadeth.

And as he spake he girded his armour about him, and made him ready to go
out against Firoud.

Now when Firoud beheld him he sighed, and said, This army is valiant, but
it cannot distinguish good from evil. I fear me that by them will Saiawush
not be avenged, for their leader is devoid of sense. Else could he not persist in
enmity against me. Tell me now, I pray, who this new foe may be?

Then Tokhareh said, It is Gew, the son of Gudarz, a knight of great renown,
before whom even the lion trembleth unto his marrow. And he led forth thy
brother into Iran, and he is girt with the armour of Saiawush, that no man can
pierce with in arrow. Direct thy bow, therefore, yet again unto the charger, or
thy strife will be vain.

And Firoud the brave did as Tokhareh said, and he sent forth his arrow, and
the horse of Gew sank unto the earth. Now all the nobles rejoiced when Gew
returned unto them in safety; but Byzun, his son, was wroth, and he upbraided
his father, and he said

      O thou who fearest not an army, how canst thou turn thee back
      before a single knight?

Then he sware a great oath that he would not quit the saddle until the blood
of Rivniz and of Zerasp should be avenged.

Now Gew was afraid for his son, who was young, and would have restrained
130                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

him. But Byzun suffered it not, and when his father saw that he was resolved,
he gave unto him the armour of Saiawush, and sent him forth unto the mountain.

Now when Firoud saw that yet another was come out against him, he ques-
tioned Tokhareh again of his name. And Tokhareh said
      It is a youth who hath not his like in Iran. Byzun is he called, and
      he is only son unto Gew the brave. And because that he is clad in
      the armour of Saiawush, thy father, strike at his horse, or thy bow
      will avail thee nought.
So Firoud shot his arrows at the horse, and he laid it low, as he had done the
others. Then Byzun cried, saying
      O young man, who aimest thus surely, thou shalt behold how war-
      riors fight on foot.
And he ran up the side of the mountain, that he might come near unto Firoud.
But Firoud turned and entered in upon his gates, and he rained down stones
from his walls upon the head of his adversary. Then Byzun taunted him, and
      O hero of renown, thou fliest before a man on foot, thou who art
      brave! Alas! whither is vanished thy courage?
Then he returned unto the camp, and told unto Tus how that this scion of the
Kaianides was filled with valour, and how his bow was sure, and he said that he
feared no man could stand against him. But Tus said, I will raze unto the dust
his castle, I will destroy this Turk, and avenge the blood that he hath spilled.

Now when the brilliant sun was vanished and the black night had invaded the
earth with her army of stars, Firoud caused his castle to be strengthened. And
while he did so, his mother dreamed a dream of evil portent, and she came forth
weeping before her son. And she spake, saying
      O my son, the stars are evil disposed towards us, and I am afraid
      for thee.
Then Firoud answered her, saying, Woe unto thee, my mother, for I know it is
not given unto thee to cease from shedding tears of sorrow. For verily I shall
perish like unto my father, in the flower of my youth. Yet will I not crave mercy
of these Iranians.

And he bade her go back unto the chamber of the women, and pray God for his

Now when the sun returned and lifted his glorious face above the vault of heaven,
there was heard the sound of armour on all sides, and Firoud beheld that the
host of Iran was come forth against him. So he went out beyond the gates,

leading his warriors. And since there was no plain whereon they could give
battle, they fought upon the mountain-side, and many were the Turkish heads
that were felled. But Firoud made great havoc among his enemies, and they
beheld that he was a lion in the fight. But the stars of the young hero were
waning, for even a brave man cannot contend alone against an host. For when
he would have ridden back unto his castle, Rehham and Byzun lay in ambush
against him, and they closed unto him the two ends of the path. But Firoud
was not dismayed thereat. He fell upon the son of Gew, and would have slain
him; but Rehham came upon him from behind, and struck him down with a
mighty club. Then Firoud knew that his hour was come, and he returned unto
his mother. Now when she saw him she raised a great cry, but he bade her keep
silence, and he spake, saying
     Weep not, for the time suffereth it not. For the Iranians follow fast
     upon me, and they will enter and take this house, and do violence
     unto thee and to thy women. Go out, therefore, and cast you from
     off the walls into the abyss, that death may come upon you, and that
     Byzun when he entereth find none alive. As for me, my moments
     are but few, for the heroes of Iran have murdered the days of my
And the women did as he commanded, save only his mother, who abode beside
him until the breath was gone out from his body. Then she made a great fire,
and threw therein all his treasures, and she went out into the stables and laid
low the horses that were therein. And when she had made the place a desert
unto the Iranians, she returned unto the feet of her son, and pierced her body
with a sword.

Now when the Iranians had broken down the bars of the gates and entered
into the castle, they came unto the chamber and beheld the bodies of Firoud
and of his mother. And when they saw them, they could not withhold their
tears, and they sorrowed for the anger of Tus, and the fear of Kai Khosrau
came upon them. And Gudarz said unto Tus
     Thou hast sown hatred, and thou wilt reap war. It beseemeth not a
     leader to be quick to ire. Thy haste hath brought to death a youth
     of the race of the Kaianides, and hath caused the blood of thy sons
     to be spilled.
When Tus heard these words he wept in his sorrow, and said
     Evil fortune is come upon me.

Then he caused a royal tomb to be made, and seated Firoud therein upon a
throne of gold, and he decked him with all the signs of kingship. And when
he had so done he returned with his army unto the plains, and three days they
halted in their grief. But on the fourth the trumpets were sounded for depar-
ture, and Tus led forth the army towards Turan.
132                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

Now when Afrasiyab learned that a host was come forth against him from out
of Iran, he bade Piran make ready his army. For he said
      Kai Khosrau hath unveiled unto us the secrets of his heart, and we
      know now that forgiveness is not hidden in his soul.
Now while they made them in order, there came a great storm of snow that
covered the earth like to a carpet, and the water became hard, and for many
days no man beheld the earth or the sun. And food was lacking unto the
Iranians, and they were fain to devour their steeds of battle. And when at last
the sun came back, the earth was changed into a lake, and the Iranians suffered
yet again. Then Tus said
      Let us return whence we came forth.
But his army said, Not so. Shall we flee before the face of Afrasiyab?

So they made them ready to meet their foes. And they fought right valiantly,
and many were the heads of Turan that were laid in the dust by their hands,
and the victory inclined towards them. Then Tus was glad, and made a great
feast and invited thereto his warriors. And he darkened their heads with wine,
so that they laid aside their armour, neither did they set watches in the camp.
Now Piran, when he learned of this, saw that the time served him, and when
the night was fallen he went out against the camp of Iran. And all the nobles
were drunk save only Gudarz the wise. Now when he heard that the Turanians
were come into the camp, he ran to the tents of Tus and cried, saying
      Is this the hour to hold the wine-cup?
Then he called together his sons, and he set his army in order; but the Turanians
routed them utterly, for the men of Iran were heavy with wine, and they knew
not whither they sent their blows. And the carnage was great, and when the
sun had brought back the day the ground was strewn thick with the bodies of
the Iranians. And cries of agony were heard around, and there were none to
heal the hurts, for those that were whole were captive. And Tus was beside
himself for sorrow, and Gudarz alone was not defraught of reason. So the old
man sent forth a messenger to bear the tidings of woe unto the Shah. Now he
was a messenger that made the earth disappear beneath his feet, and speedily
did he stand within the courts of the King. And Kai Khosrau, when he had
listened to his words, was angered, and his tongue called down curses on the
head of Tus. Then he pondered all night how he should act, but when the cock
crew he wrote a letter unto Friburz the son of Kai Kaous. And he bade him
take unto him the flag of Kawah and the golden boots, and lead the army in
the place of Tus. And he bade him in all things be obedient to the counsels of
Gudarz the wise, and he recalled how Tus had disobeyed his commandments,
and he said
      I know no longer who is my friend or my foe.

Then he put his seal to the letter and gave it unto the messenger. And the man
sped forth and brought it into the camp. Then Friburz read it out before the
army. And when he had heard it Tus did that which the Shah desired, and when
he had given over unto Friburz the command he turned him to go back unto Iran.

Now when he was come before Kai Khosrau, he fell upon the earth before his
throne, and the Shah raised him not, neither did he give him words of greeting.
And when he parted his lips, it was to let forth words of anger. And he made
known to him his sore displeasure, and he reproached him with the death of
Firoud, and he said

     But that thou art sprung from Minuchihr, and that thy beard is
     white, I would sever thy head from off thy body for this deed. Yet,
     as it is, a dungeon shall be thy dwelling, and thine evil nature thy

And when he had thus spoken he drove him from his presence, and gave orders
that he should be put into chains.

Now while these things passed in Iran, Friburz craved of Piran that he would
grant unto him a truce. And Piran said

     It is ye who have broken into our land; yet I will listen unto your
     desires and grant unto you this truce, and it shall be of the length
     of one moon. But I counsel unto you that ye quit the land of Turan
     in its course.

But Friburz would not Lead back the army thus discomfited, and he spent the
time accorded to him in preparation, and when it was at an end he offered battle
again to the Turanians. And there was waged a combat s sun hath not looked
upon its like, and the army of the Iranians was overthrown. And the slaughter
was terrible, neither did the men of Turan escape, and many were the great ones
of the land that perished. And the men of Iran fought till that their strength
was departed. They had sought the conflict and found defeat. And they that
were not slain fled from the battlefield, and it is they that saved their lives in
this manner whom thou must bewail.

Now when another day was risen upon the world, Piran sent for his guards
to bring him news of the Iranians. And when they told him that their tents
were vanished from off the plains, he sent the news of victory to Afrasiyab. And
the King rejoiced thereat, and all the land prepared a great feast unto the army.
And when Piran entered into the city the terraces thereof were decked with car-
pets of gay hue, and the houses were clothed with arras of Roum, and pieces of
silver rained down upon the warriors. And the King poured upon Piran gifts of
such number that you would not have patience to hear me recount them. And
he sent him back unto Khoten with much honour and many counsels. And he
134                                                   CHAPTER 11. FIROUD

      Let not thine army slumber, and trust not thy foe because he is
      drawn back. I charge thee keep thine eyes fixed upon the land of
      Rustem, for if thy vigilance slumber he will surely come forth and
      destroy thee, for he alone is to be feared of the men of Iran. There-
      fore be brave and watchful, and may Heaven preserve thee unto my

And Piran listened unto the words spoken of Afrasiyab, as it beseemed him.
And when he was returned unto his kingdom, he set watchers upon all sides,
that they might acquaint him concerning Rustem the Pehliva.
Chapter 12


D         IRE was the wailing among the army of Iran at their sore defeat, and
they turned them back discomfited. And they came before the Shah, their
hearts torn with anguish. And their hands were crossed upon their breasts, and
they were humble as slaves. And Kai Khosrau was angry when he beheld them,
and he remembered Firoud, and he railed against Tus, from whom was sprung
this evil. And he said

Cursed be he and his elephants and his cymbals. And the Shah withdrew from
his courts, and he withheld his countenance from the land. So the nobles went
out unto Rustem, and entreated of him that he would intercede for them with
the Shah. And Rustem did as they desired, and he pleaded for the army and its
leaders, and he spake good even of Tus. And Kai Khosrau inclined his ear unto
his Pehliva, and he let the light of his countenance shine again upon his army,
and he confided unto Tus once more the standard of Kawah, but he made Gew
march beside him and restrain his haste.

So they set forth again unto Turan, and Afrasiyab, when he learned of their
approach, made ready his army also. And there were joined unto him the hosts
of the Khakan of China, and of the Kamous of Kushan, men mighty in the
battlefield. And from Ind and all the highlands of Asia there came forth troops
unto the aid of Afrasiyab, King of Turan. And he rejoiced thereat, for he was
assured that if Rustem came not forth to aid them, the men of Iran could not
stand against his host.

Now when the two armies met, many and fierce were the combats waged between
them, and blows were given and received, and swords flashed and showers of


arrows descended on all sides. And the blood of brave men was shed like unto
the shedding of rain from a black cloud. And day by day were the Iranians
weakened, for they were smitten with great slaughter, and the number of their
dead was past the counting. But Afrasiyab rejoiced in his victory, and his heart
shouted within him when he learned after many days that the Iranians were
drawn back into the mountains. But Kai Khosrau, when he learned it, was
afflicted, and wept sore. Then he sent greeting unto Rustem, his Pehliva, and
he craved of him that he would come forth to aid the army, for in him alone
could he put his trust. And Rustem said
      O Shah, since the day that mine arm could wield a mace, I have ever
      fought the battles of Iran, and it would seem that rest may never
      come nigh unto me. Yet since I am thy slave, it behoveth me to
      obey. I am ready to do thy desires.
So he made ready an host to go unto the succour of Iran. And while he did so
the army was defeated yet again, and all heart went from the Iranians, and they
would have given them over unto their foes. But while they pondered it, there
came tidings unto Gudarz that Rustem was drawing nigh. Yet they feared to
give way unto belief. But Piran when he heard it was sore discomfited, for he
remembered of old the might of Rustem, and he knew that none could stand
before it. But the Khakan and the Kamous scoffed at his fears, and they made
loud boastings that Rustem should fall by their hands.

Now when some days had passed in this disquietude, it came about one night
that, when the moon showed her face above the mountains, like unto a victori-
ous king seated upon a throne of turquoise, a watchman of Iran set up a great
cry. And he said
      The plain is filled with dust, and the night resoundeth with noise.
      And I behold a mighty army drawing nigh, and they bear torches,
      and in their midst rideth Rustem the mighty.
When the men of Iran heard this, they set up a great shout, and their hearts
seemed to come back into their bodies, and their courage, that had been as dead,
returned. And glad was the greeting that they gave unto Rustem the Pehliva.
And Rustem mustered them and put them into battle order, and when the sun
had wearied of the black veil, and had torn the night asunder, and reappeared
unto the world, the men of Iran called upon the host of Turan to come forth in
combat. And they defied them unto battle, and they fought with new valour,
and they made great havoc in their ranks. And when the evening was come,
the day belonged unto Iran.

Then Piran called before him Human the brave, and said unto him
      The nobles of Iran have found again their courage, since an army is
      come to their aid. Yet I would know if Rustem be their leader, for
      him alone do I fear.

And when he learned it his spirit was troubled. But the Kamous mocked him,
and sware a great oath that, ere the sun should be set once more, he would have
broken the might of Rustem. For he said

     There is none, not even a mad elephant, that is mine equal in the

So when the day was come, the Kamous challenged Rustem unto single combat.
And Rustem strode forth from the camp, and the Kamous met him upon the
plain. Then they struggled sore, and wrestled one with another, but in the end
Rustem caught the Kamous in the meshes of his cord. And he showed him unto
the army, and he asked of them, saying

     What death desire ye that the Kamous should die, for his hour is

Then he threw him among the nobles, and they made an end of him with their
spears, and they flung his body to the vultures.

Now when the Khakan heard of the death of the Kamous, he sware that he
would avenge him, and he sent forth a messenger to defy Rustem. But Rustem
said unto the messenger

     I seek no quarrel with the Khakan, and in all your army I desire only
     to look upon the face of Piran. And I beg of him that he will come
     forth to greet me, for my heart burneth towards him, because he
     was afflicted for the death of Saiawush, my foster-son, and because
     of the good he did unto Kai Khosrau and unto his mother.

So the messenger bare these words unto Piran. And Piran, when he had taken
counsel, listened unto the desires of Rustem, and came into his tents. And he

     I am Piran, leader of the hosts of Turan. Speak unto me thy name.

And Rustem said, I am Rustem of Zaboulistan, and I am armed with a mace
and a sword of Cabul.

Then he gave him greeting from Kai Khosrau, and he lauded him for the good
deeds that he had done unto Saiawush and to his son, and he entreated him
that he would turn away from Afrasiyab, and go with him unto Kai Khosrau.
And he said

     Iran desireth not to destroy the innocent. Therefore deliver over
     unto me the men upon whose head resteth the blood of Saiawush,
     and we will withdraw our hosts, and there shall be peace in the land.

Then Piran said, That which thou askest, verily it can never be, for the slayers
of Saiawush are near kinsfolk unto Afrasiyab. And because he hath named me

the leader of his hosts, it may not be that I abandon them. But I say unto
thee, that it would be sweeter unto me to die than to conduct this warfare, and
that my heart is torn because I must lift up the sword of enmity against Kai
Khosrau, my son.

And Rustem saw that the words that Piran spake were true, and he sorrowed
for him. And when they parted it was in friendship, although they knew that
battle must rage between them. Then they drew up their armies, and for forty
days there was waged a battle, mighty and terrible. And great ravages were
committed, and Rustem did deeds of valour, and the strong and the weak were
alike impotent before him. And the plains were strewn with the bodies of the
slain, until that an ant could not have found a road to pass between them, and
the blood of the wounded streamed on all sides, and heads without bodies and
bodies without heads covered the ground. For neither the claw of the leopard
nor the trunk of the elephant, neither the high mountains nor the waters of the
earth, could prevail against Rustem when he fought at the head of his hosts.
And he slew the mightiest among the Turanians, and only Piran was he mindful
to spare. And the Khakan of China was enmeshed in his cord, and he sent him
bound unto Kai Khosrau with news of the victory. And when the Turanians fled
before his face, he followed after them and pursued them unto the mountains.

Then Piran made haste to come before Afrasiyab, and he spake to him and
      The land is changed into a sea of blood, for Rustem is come forth,
      and who can stand against him? And he followeth after me close.
      Wherefore I counsel thee, flee; for how canst thou stand alone against
      him? Alas for the woe that thou hast brought upon Turan! Thou
      hast wounded our hearts with the iron of the arrow wherewith thou
      didst slay Saiawush the noble.
Then he urged upon him that he tarry not. So Afrasiyab fled from before the
face of Rustem and hid himself in the mountains. And when Rustem came
into his courts and found that the King was fled, he seized upon much booty
and divided it among his men, and he feasted them many days in the house of
Afrasiyab, and he suffered them to enjoy repose. Then he destroyed with fire
the palace, and when he had done so he turned him to go back unto Kai Khosrau.

Now when he was come within the city of the Shah, glad cries rang through
all the air, and the sound of drums filled the land of Iran, and there was joy
throughout its breadth because the destroyer of Turan was returned. And the
heart of Kai Khosrau rejoiced like a paradise, and he came out to meet his
Pehliva mounted upon an elephant gaily caparisoned, and music and singers
went before him. And he invited him to a great feast, and he poured rich gifts
upon him. And for a month Rustem abode in the presence of his Shah, making
merry with wine. And the singers chanted of his great deeds, and the sounds
of flutes and stringed instruments went with their words. But when that time

was over Rustem asked of Kai Khosrau that he would suffer him to return unto
Zal his father, for his heart yearned to look upon his face. And Kai Khosrau
suffered it.

Now Rustem was not returned long unto Zaboulistan before there came into
the courts of the Shah a shepherd who desired to speak with Kai Khosrau. And
the Shah granted his request, and the man opened his mouth before him, and
he said
     A wild ass is broken in among my horses, and he doeth great mis-
     chief, for his breath is like unto a lion. Send forth, therefore, I entreat
     of thee, O King of Kings, a warrior of thine host that he may slay
Now Kai Khosrau, when he had listened, knew that this was not a wild ass
but the Deev Akwan, who had taken this disguise upon him. So he cast about
whom he should send forth to meet him, and he knew there was none other
but Rustem, the son of Zal, to whom he could turn in this strait. So he sent a
messenger swift as a cloud before a storm to summon him forth yet again. And
Rustem obeyed the voice of his Shah, and he set forth in search of the Deev, and
he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And in his hand was a mighty mace,
and round his wrist was rolled a cord of length. And he went in search of the
wild ass, and when he had found him he threw his cord about him. But the ass
vanished under his hands. Then Rustem knew that it was a Deev, and that he
fought against the arts of magic. Yet was he not dismayed. And after a while
the ass came forth again, and Rustem threw his cord once more about him.
And yet again the Deev vanished under his hand. And thus did the Deev three
days and three nights without ceasing, so that weariness came upon Rustem
and he was heavy with slumber. So he sought out a spot of safety and he laid
him down to rest, and he bade Rakush browse beside him.

Now when the Deev saw that Rustem was sleeping, he drew nigh and loos-
ened the earth whereon he lay, and lifted it and placed it upon his head, that he
might cast it away and destroy Rustem. But as he carried him Rustem awoke,
and when he saw what was come to pass he feared that his hour was come. And
the Deev, when he beheld that Rustem was awakened, spake, and said unto him
     O hero, which death dost thou covet? Shall I fling thee down upon
     the mountain or cast thee into the sea?
Now Rustem knew that the Deev questioned him in wile, and he bethought him
that he would of a surety do that which Rustem desired not, so he said
     I have heard it said that it is not given to those that perish in the
     waters to look upon the face of the Serosch or to find rest in the life
     that is beyond.
Then the Deev said, I desire that thou know not repose.

And he flung him into the sea at a spot where hungry crocodiles would de-
vour him.

Now Rustem, when he felt the water beneath him, forthwith drew out his sword
and combated the crocodiles with his right hand, and with his left he swam to-
wards the shore. And long did he struggle and sore, but when the night was
fallen he put his foot upon the dry land. Then, when he had given thanks unto
God and rested him, he returned unto the spot where he had found the Deev.
And he sought after Rakush his steed, and his eye beheld him not. Then fear
filled his spirit, and he roamed around to seek him. And he found him at last
among the horses of Afrasiyab, that grazed in a spot hard by, for the keepers
had ensnared him. But when Rakush heard the voice of Rustem he neighed
aloud, and brake from the keepers and ran towards his master. And Rustem
put the saddle upon him and mounted him. Then he slew the keepers and took
their herds unto himself.

Now while he was so doing Afrasiyab came forth from his hiding-place, for
his heart yearned to look upon his horses. And when he beheld Rustem in their
midst he was dismayed, and knew not whither he should turn, for he deemed
that the Pehliva had discovered his hiding-place and was come forth against him.
So he offered battle unto him with the men that were with him. And Rustem
accepted the challenge, although he was alone; and he fought with might and
overcame the men, and slew sixty of them with his sword and forty with his
mace. And Afrasiyab fled once more from before him.

Now when it was done the Deev came forth again, for he thought he could
quell Rustem now that he was weary. But Rustem sprang on him and crushed
him, and he was slain at his hands. Then the Pehliva returned unto Kai Khos-
rau. And when the Shah had learned of all his deeds, and beheld the booty that
he had brought back, his mouth could not cease from praising the prowess of
Rustem, and he would have kept his Pehliva beside him for ever. But Rustem
      Suffer thy servant to go forth. For I would make ready an host,
      since it behoveth us not to cease from the vengeance that is due
      unto Saiawush, for his murderers yet cumber the ground.
Wherefore Rustem departed yet again from out the courts of the Shah.
Chapter 13


P         EACE reigned again within the borders of Iran, and P the sword slept
in its scabbard, and Kai Khosrau ordered the world with wisdom. And men
rejoiced that the glory of Turan had been brought low, and the Shah feasted his
nobles in lightness of heart.

Now it came about one day that while they were shortening the hours with
wine there entered in unto them the keeper of the curtains of the door. And
he said that men from Arman stood without and craved an audience. Then
Kai Khosrau bade that they be let in. So the men came before him, and they
uttered cries of lamentation, and they fell down at his feet and implored his aid.
And Kai Khosrau said
     Who hath done you wrong?
Then the men answered, Our wrong cometh unto us from the borders of Turan,
for there issue forth thence wild boars that break into our fields and do destruc-
tion to our crops. And our fortunes are entwined with the ground, and no man
can overcome these beasts. Wherefore, we pray thee, send forth a Pehliva that
he may subdue them, for our land groaneth under this plague.

Then Kai Khosrau said, It shall be done as you desire, and he dismissed them
graciously. Then he called before him his treasurer, and bade him bring forth
precious stones, and horses with girdles of gold, and rich brocades of Roum.
And when they were placed before him he showed them to his nobles, and he
said that whoever would go forth to combat the wild boars should not find him
close-handed. But for a while none answered, for no man listed to go forth to
battle with wild beasts. Then Byzun, the son of Gew, arose and spake, saying
     If the Shah will grant leave unto me, I will go forth and slay these

142                                  CHAPTER 13. BYZUN AND MANIJEH

Now Gew was grieved thereat, because that Byzun was his only son, and he
feared for his youth. Therefore he sought to restrain him. But Byzun suffered
it not, and he said
      O King, listen unto my desires; for though I be young in years, yet
      am I old in prudence, and I will do nought that is not fitting unto
      thy slave.
And Kai Khosrau granted his request, but he bade him take forth with him
Girgin, the wise in counsel, that he should guide him aright. And Byzun did as
the Shah desired, and they set forth unto the land of Arman.

Now when they were come unto the wood they rested them, and made a great
fire, and drank wine until they were refreshed. Then Girgin would have laid
him down to slumber. But Byzun said
      Not so, let us go forth and seek the wild boars.
Then Girgin said, Go thou alone, for it is thou who hast engaged in this combat,
and who hast taken to thyself the gifts of the Shah. Therefore it behoveth me
only to look on.

When Byzun heard these words he was amazed, but he regarded them not,
and he entered in upon the forest. And after a while he came upon the wild
boars, and they fell upon him. But he slew them with his mace, and he reddened
the ground with their gore, and he went after them, even unto their lairs, and
not one of them did he suffer to escape. Then when he had done thus, he parted
their mighty teeth from off their heads and hung them about his saddle, that the
men of Iran might behold them. And after this he turned him back unto Girgin.

Now Girgin, when he beheld him mounted upon his horse, and bearing round
his saddle the tokens of his triumph, was envious thereat. And with his mouth
he gave him joy, but Ahriman took hold of his spirit. So he pondered all night
long how he could lay a snare for Byzun. And when the morning was come
he praised his prowess, and they quaffed wine together, and fair words were
exchanged between them. Then Girgin said

      This land is known unto me, for I sojourned here with Rustem.
      And I know that at the distance of two farsangs lies the garden of
      Afrasiyab, where his women go forth to keep the feast of spring. And
      I bethink me that the time is at hand. Wherefore, I say unto thee,
      let us go hence, and behold with our eyes the fair ones whom the
      King of Turan hideth behind his curtains.
Now these words inflamed the blood of Byzun, and he gave ear unto Girgin,
for he was young, and he acted like a young man. So they set forth upon the
road, and Girgin filled the mind of Byzun with feasts and with sounds of music.
And when they were come unto the spot, Byzun burned with impatience to look

upon the women of Afrasiyab. And Girgin feigned as though he would restrain
his foot within the skirt of patience, but he rejoiced in secret, for he hoped that
from this deed evil would arise. So Byzun sped forth unto the garden, and he
hid himself beneath the shade of a tall cypress, and he feasted his eyes upon
the beauty of the women. And the garden was clad in its robes of spring, and
the world was green and fair, and all the air was filled with the sweet sounds of
music and of song. And there moved amid the rose-bushes maidens of Peri face,
and in stature they were like to the cypress-trees, and one was exalted above
them all. And she was daughter unto Afrasiyab, and Manijeh was she named.

Now it came about that as Manijeh stood at the door of her tent she beheld
Byzun where he was hid. And she marvelled at his beauty, and her heart was
captive unto him. So she called about her her maidens, and said

      Go forth and question the stranger who regardeth us, for I bethink
      me that he is a Peri, or that Saiawush is come back unto the earth,
      for no mortal can own such beauty, neither can any man enter here.

Then one went forth and bare unto Byzun this message. And his heart leaped
thereat, and he said

      Say unto your mistress that I am come forth from Iran to slay the
      wild boars of Arman. And I came hither that perchance I might gaze
      upon the face of the daughter of Afrasiyab, for tidings of her beauty
      were told unto me, and reached even unto Iran. Go, therefore, and
      ask if I may speak with her.

Then the handmaidens did as Byzun desired, and Manijeh said, Let him come

So Byzun entered into the tents of Manijeh, and she received him with joy,
and she caused his feet to be washed with musk and amber, and she poured
jewels before him, and prepared for him a feast of sweet meats. And slaves
stood around and made soft music, and the heart of Byzun was ensnared in the
meshes of the net that had been spread. And three days and three nights did he
sojourn beside Manijeh, and his passion for her waxed greater, and he thought
not of Iran, neither of the time of departure. And Manijeh too rejoiced in his
presence, and when the time was come for her to quit the garden of spring she
would not part with him. So she gave unto him a cup wherein she had mingled
a potion. And the wine caused Byzun to sleep, and while he slept the maidens
bare him in a litter even into the house of Afrasiyab. And Manijeh hid him
behind the curtains of the women, and none, save only her handmaidens, were
aware of his presence.

Now when Byzun awoke he asked whither he was come, and when he learned
that he was in the house of Afrasiyab he was afraid, and desired to return unto
Iran. But Manijeh quieted his distrust, and he forgot his fears in her love. And
144                                  CHAPTER 13. BYZUN AND MANIJEH

she made the earth glad about him, and the hours fled on the wings of wine and
of joy. And many days sped thus, and none knew what passed in the house of
the women.

Then it came about that a guardian of the door learned thereof, and he came
before Afrasiyab, and told unto him that his daughter hid within her house a
man of the race of Iran. And Afrasiyab, when he learned it, was beside himself
with anger, and he cursed Manijeh, and he said
      The hour is come unto this man.
Then he called for Gersiwaz, his brother, and bade him go forth with a band
of armed men unto the house of the women. And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab
commanded, and he put guards at all the doors. Then the sounds of lutes and
of rejoicing fell upon his ear, for none were aware of the vengeance that was
come upon them. And when Gersiwaz was come unto the house of Manijeh, the
daughter of Afrasiyab, he brake open the doors, and stood in the midst of the
revels. And he beheld within the chamber many slaves playing on lutes of gold,
and fair women that handed the wine-cups. And Manijeh was seated upon a
throne of gold, and beside her was Byzun, the son of Gew, the Iranian, and joy
was painted on his visage.

Now when Gersiwaz beheld Byzun, he cried, O vile man, thou art fallen into
my hands! How wilt thou now save thy life?

And Byzun was dismayed, for he had neither sword nor armour, and he thought
within himself
      I fear me that my life will end this day.

But he drew forth from his boot a dagger that was hidden therein, and he
threatened Gersiwaz, and he said that he would plunge it into his breast if he
led him not before Afrasiyab.

Now Gersiwaz knew that Byzun was quick to act, and would do that which
he spake, so he held back from combat, and he seized Byzun and bound him,
and led him before Afrasiyab. And when Afrasiyab saw him in such plight, he
      O man of evil, wherefore didst thou come into my land?
Then Byzun told him how he was gone forth to slay the boars, and how he was
come into the garden of Afrasiyab, and he said that a Peri had borne him unto
the palace, for he would not do hurt unto Manijeh. But Afrasiyab refused belief
unto his words, and he commanded that a gibbet should be raised without his
court, and that Byzun be hung thereon, because he had dishonoured the house
of the women, and had stolen like a thief in the night into the house of the King.
And in vain did Byzun invoke mercy at the hands of Afrasiyab, and he was led

forth beyond the courts. And the men of Afrasiyab made ready the gallows, and
Byzun stood bound beneath. And he wept sore in his distress, and he prayed
to the winds that they would bear tidings of him unto the Shah of Iran, and he
sware that his death should be avenged upon Turan.

Now while he waited thus there passed by Piran, the Pehliva, who was come
forth to do homage unto the King. And when he beheld the gibbet he questioned
concerning it, and when he learned that it was for Byzun he was troubled. So
he got him from his horse and came near unto the youth, and questioned him of
this adventure. And Byzun told him all that was come about, and how his evil
comrade had laid for him a snare. Then Piran commanded that punishment be
stayed until he should have spoken unto Afrasiyab. And he went in and stood
before the King as a suppliant. Then Afrasiyab bade him make known his de-
sires. And Piran opened his mouth and spake words of wisdom unto Afrasiyab,
his King. And he reminded him of the death of Saiawush, and how Byzun was
of much account in his own country, and how surely his blood would be avenged.
And he said how the land of Turan was not ready to stand again in a new war,
and he prayed Afrasiyab to content him with a dungeon. And he said

     Heap chains upon Byzun, and let the earth hide him, that Iran may
     not know whither he is vanished.

Now Afrasiyab knew that the words of Piran were wise, and he gave ear unto
them. So Byzun was led forth unto a desert place and he was laden with chains
of iron and his tender flesh was bound and he was thrown into a deep hole.
And the opening thereof was closed with a mighty stone that the Deev Akwan
had torn from the nethermost sea, and neither sun nor moon could be seen by
Byzun, and Afrasiyab trusted that his reason would forsake him in this pit. And
when he had done thus unto Byzun, he bade Gersiwaz go in unto the house of
the daughter that had dishonoured him, and tear off her costly robes, and her
crown, and her veil. And he said

     Let her be cast forth also into the desert, that she may behold the
     dungeon wherein Byzun is hid. And say unto her, Thou hast been
     his Spring, be now his comforter, and wait upon him in his narrow

And Gersiwaz did as Afrasiyab commanded, and he tore the veil from off Mani-
jeh, and he caused her to walk barefooted unto the spot where Byzun was hid.

Now Manijeh was bowed down with sorrow, and she wept sore, and she wan-
dered through the desert day and night bewailing her fate. And ever did she
return unto the pit, and she sought how she might enter therein. But she could
not move the mighty stone that closed its mouth. Yet after some days were
gone by she found an opening where she could thrust in her hand. Now when
she had found it she rejoiced, and daily she went forth unto the city and begged
of men that they would give her bread. And none knew her for the daughter of
146                                  CHAPTER 13. BYZUN AND MANIJEH

Afrasiyab, but all had pity upon her sorry plight, and they gave her freely of
that which they had. And she returned with it unto Byzun, and she fed him
through the hole that she had made. And she spake unto him sweet words of
comfort, and she kept his heart alive within him.

Now while these things were passing in Turan, Girgin was returned unto Iran
much discomfited. And he pondered how he should come before the Shah, and
what he should say unto Gew. And he told them that they had of their com-
bined strength overcome the boars, and he boasted that he had done deeds of
great prowess, and he said that a wild ass was come forth out of the forest and
had borne away Byzun from before his eyes, and verily he held that it must be
a Deev. Then Kai Khosrau questioned him closely, and when he had done so
he saw that Girgin held not unto his story. So his mind misgave him, and he
commanded that Girgin be put in chains. And he said
      I will guard thee until I have learned tidings of Byzun.
Now Gew was beside himself with grief because of his only son, whom he loved,
but Kai Khosrau spake comfort unto his soul. And he bade riders go forth unto
all corners of the wind to seek tidings of Byzun, and he said
      If I learn nought concerning him until the feast of Neurouz be come,
      I will search for him in the crystal globe wherein I can behold the
      world, and read the secrets of destiny.

Now when the horsemen had sought Byzun in vain throughout the plains of Iran
and in the gorges of the land of Arman, they returned them unto the courts of
the Shah. So when the feast of Neurouz was come, Kai Khosrau clothed himself
in a robe of Roum, and he took from off his head the crown of the Kaianides,
and he presented himself in humility before Ormuzd. Then he took in his hand
the globe of crystal, and he prayed to God that He would grant unto him to
behold the seven zones of the world. And God granted it. And Kai Khosrau
surveyed all the lands of the earth, and nowhere upon them could he behold
Byzun. And he was downcast and sad in his spirit, for he deemed that Byzun
was departed from the world. Then Ormuzd showed unto him where he was
hidden in a pit, and Kai Khosrau beheld him, and the damsel that watched
beside him. So he called before him Gew, and said
      Let thy heart cease from sorrow, for thy son liveth, and he is tended
      by a maiden of noble birth. But he is bound, and a mighty stone is
      laid above his prison, and Rustem alone can deliver him. Wherefore
      I counsel thee, speed forth unto Zaboulistan and entreat the son of
      Zal that he come unto our aid yet again.
Then Kai Khosrau wrote a letter unto Rustem, wherein he told him all that was
come about, and he gave the writing unto Gew. And Gew sped forth therewith
unto Zaboulistan.

Now when he was come within the courts of Rustem, Zal beheld him from
afar, and he feared that evil was come upon Iran since the Shah sent forth a
man of might like unto Gew to be his messenger. So he came forth in haste and
questioned him. And when he learned his mission he bade him come within, and
he told him how Rustem was gone forth to chase the wild ass, and he made a
feast for him, and entertained him until his son was returned within the courts.
Now when Rustem learned the tidings, his eyes were filled with tears, but he
spake comfort unto Gew, and he said
     Be not disquieted, for verily Rustem shall not remove the saddle
     from Rakush until he hath grasped the hand of Byzun, and broken
     his chains and his prison.

And when he had read the letter of the Shah, he made him ready to go, before
Kai Khosrau. And when he was come into his presence, he did obeisance before
him, and he said
     O King of kings, I am ready to do thy commandments, for my mother
     brought me into the world that I might weary myself for thee, and
     unto thee pertaineth rest and joy, and unto me combat everlasting.
Then he chose forth from among the warriors men of renown, that they should
go out with him to deliver Byzun. And Girgin sent greeting unto Rustem, and
craved of him that he would plead for him with the Shah. And he bewailed his
fault, and he entreated that he might go out to succour Byzun. And Rustem
asked his forgiveness of Kai Khosrau, and when the Shah would have refused his
suit, he pressed him hard. So Kai Khosrau listened to the desires of his Pehliva.
Then he said unto him
     Tell me what men and treasures thou desirest to bear with thee into

And Rustem said, I desire not a large army, for I think to regain Byzun by the
arts of wile. Give unto me, therefore, jewels and rich brocades, and carpets, and
stuffs of value, for I purpose to go forth in the garb of a merchant.

Then Kai Khosrau gave him the key to all his treasures, and Rustem chose
forth rich stuffs, and loaded them upon an hundred camels. And he desired
seven valiant knights that they should go forth with him clad in the dress of
merchants, and that an army be posted in secret upon the borders. And when
all was ready the caravan went forth. And they journeyed until they came into
the town of Khoten, and all the people came forth to gaze upon their mer-
chandise. Then Rustem, in his disguise, went unto the house of Piran, and he
poured gifts before him, and he asked leave of him that he might remain within
the borders to sell his wares. And Piran granted his request. So Rustem took
for himself a house, and showed his goods unto the people, and bartered them,
and it was noised through all the land that a caravan was come out from Iran,
and all who had need of aught flocked into the city. And the news spread even
148                                 CHAPTER 13. BYZUN AND MANIJEH

unto the ears of Manijeh. And when she learned that it was men of Iran who
were come forth, she made her way unto the city, and came before Rustem and
questioned him, saying
      What news is there abroad in Iran concerning Byzun, the son of
      Gew, and doth no army come forth to save him? O noble merchant,
      I entreat of thee when thou goest back to thy land, to seek out Gew,
      and Kai Khosrau, and Rustem the mighty, and bring unto them
      tidings of Byzun, lest he perish in his chains.
Now Rustem, when he heard her words, was afraid for his secret, for he knew
not who she was. Wherefore he spoke roughly unto her, and he said
      I am a man of peace and of ignoble birth, a merchant, and I know
      nought of Gew, or of Byzun, or of the Shah. Get thee hence, maiden,
      thou dost but hinder my business, and this alone concerneth me.
When he had thus spoken, Manijeh looked on him with sorrow, and wept, saying
      Do the men of Iran refuse tidings unto the poor?
Then Rustem repented him of his harshness, and said
      Woman, who art thou, and how do these things regard thee?
And he caused food to be put before her, and he comforted her with kind words.
Then Manijeh said
      I am daughter unto Afrasiyab, and my father hath cast me forth
      because of Byzun.
And she told him all that was come about, and how she had tended her beloved,
and how she had kept him alive. And she related unto Rustem how he languished
in his chains, and how they put their trust alone in Rustem the Pehliva. And
she said
      When it was told unto me that men from Iran were come forth, I
      sped hither unto thee, for I hoped that tidings of Byzun might come
      thus unto the mighty warrior.
When Rustem heard her words he was moved with compassion. And when he
had spoken softly unto her, he gave to her savoury meats, and he bade her bear
them unto Byzun. Now within the body of a fowl he had hidden a ring whereon
was graven his seal. And when Byzun came upon it, and felt the ring, and that
it bare the name of Rustem, his heart laughed within him, for he knew that the
end of his ills was come. And his lips laughed also, and his laughter shook the
walls of the pit.

Now when Manijeh heard his laughter she was amazed, and she feared lest
his wits were distraught, and she leaned over the mouth of the pit and spake,

     O man of ill fortune, wherefore is thy heart thus light, thou who
     seest neither sun, nor moon, nor stars?
Then Byzun answered and said, Hope is sprung up in my breast.

And Manijeh said, Whence dost thou behold the rays of hope?

And Byzun answered, I know not whether I can confide it unto thee, for a
woman cannot keep a secret.

Now Manijeh was pained at these words, and she upbraided Byzun, and re-
called to him all she had suffered for his sake. And Byzun repented him of his
hasty speech, for he knew that she was prudent and strong of spirit. So he said
     Swear unto me a great oath, and I will tell it unto thee.
And Manijeh sware. Then Byzun said
     I know that the merchant who is come forth from Iran is come out
     because of me. Go therefore again into his presence, and say unto
     him, O Pehliva of the King of kings, tell unto me, art thou the master
     of Rakush?
Now Manijeh, when she had heard these words, sped forth to do the bidding
of Byzun. And she came before Rustem, and spake to him the words that had
been told her. And he answered and said
     Go say unto thy friend, verily I am the master of Rakush, and that
     I am come forth to deliver him.
Then he bade her gather together wood into a pyre, and set light thereto when
the night should be come, that he might know where Byzun was laid. And
Manijeh did as Rustem commanded, and she wearied not to scour the land, and
she stripped the trees of their branches, and her tender body was torn of thorns;
but she bare all gladly for the sake of Byzun, whom she loved. And when the
night was fallen she set light unto the wood, and Rustem came forth unto the
spot, and his seven comrades came with him. And each strove in turn to lift
the stone that closed the pit, but none could roll it aside. Then Rustem prayed
to God that He would grant him strength, and he came unto the mouth of the
pit, and he bent down his body, and he spake unto Byzun, and questioned him
how he was come into these straits. Then he said
     I would ask of thee a boon. Grant thy forgiveness unto Girgin, if it
     be given unto me to move this stone, and to free thee from out of
     this pit. For verily he repenteth him of his evil deed, and because
     he is valiant I would that there should be peace between you.
But Byzun said, Thou knowest not all the evil that Girgin hath brought upon
me. I cannot give ear unto thy request, for I desire to take vengeance upon him.
150                                 CHAPTER 13. BYZUN AND MANIJEH

Then Rustem said, If thy mind be thus evil that thou wilt not listen to my
desires, nor remember how I am come forth in friendship to succour thee, I shall
mount upon Rakush and leave thee to perish in thy chains.

When Byzun heard these words he gave a loud cry, and bewailed his evil plight.
And he said, Be it as thou desirest.

Then Rustem laid hold of the stone, and he put forth all his strength, and
he lifted it from off the mouth of the pit and threw it far into the desert. Then
he let down his cord and enmeshed Byzun therein, and drew him forth from his
dungeon. And he was a sorry sight to see, for the earth had withered his body,
and his skin hung about his bones.

Now Rustem, when he had broken the chains of Byzun, covered him with a
cloak and set him upon a horse, and he took Manijeh also, and led them unto
his house in the city. Then when he had refreshed them with water, and covered
them with new robes, he desired that they be led unto the spot where the army
was hidden. And he said unto Byzun

      I desire to fall upon Turan, but thou art too wasted to fight.

But Byzun said, Not so; let Manijeh go forth into shelter, but it behoveth not
a man to be guarded like a woman.

And he refused ear to the desires of Rustem, and he clad him in a coat of
mail, and he girded him to ride beside the Pehliva. And they went forth in the
darkness until they were come unto the house of Afrasiyab. And when they
were come there, Rustem lifted the doors from off their hinges and entered into
the precincts, and he slew the guards that kept the curtains, and he made him
a passage unto the chamber of Afrasiyab. And when he stood therein he lifted
up his voice of thunder, and he cried

      Sleep, man of folly, and may thy slumbers be deep. Thou hast rested
      upon thy throne while Byzun was hidden in a pit. But thou hast
      forgotten that a road leadeth from Iran into Turan, and thou didst
      think in thine evil heart that none would come forth to avenge him.
      Listen, therefore, unto my voice; for I am Rustem, the son of Zal,
      the Pehliva, and I have broken down thy doors, and released Byzun
      from his chains, and I am come to do vengeance upon thee.

When Afrasiyab heard these words he awoke, and cried out in his fear. And
he called upon the names of his guards. But no man came forth, because they
had been laid low by the hands of Rustem. Then Afrasiyab made his way unto
the door, and because it was dark he escaped thence, and he fled before the
face of Rustem, and left his house between his hands. Then Rustem took much
rich booty of slaves, and horses, and jewels, and when he had done so he sped

back unto his army, for he knew that with the day Afrasiyab would come forth
with an host to assail him. And it came about as he foresaw, and when the
day was risen the watchers cried out that an army marched forth from Tu-
ran. Then Rustem set his men in battle order, and he sent Manijeh and the
slaves and the booty into Iran, and he placed himself at the head of the host,
and Byzun rode beside him. And there was fought a mighty battle, and great
was the slaughter, and the bodies of the slain and the broken armour covered
the earth. And the banner of Turan sank, and Afrasiyab fled before his enemies.

Then Rustem returned with joy unto Kai Khosrau, and the Shah was glad
also. And he came forth to greet his Pehliva, and there rode with him Gew and
Gudarz, his warriors. And when Kai Khosrau saw Rustem he embraced him,
and said
     O stay of my soul, and man of valour, thou resemblest the sun, for
     wheresoever men may look they behold the traces of thy mighty
     deeds. Happy is Zal who owneth a son such as thou!

Then he blessed him, and showered rich gifts upon him; and Gew blessed him
also, and Gudarz, because he had brought back Byzun into their midst. Then
Kai Khosrau gave orders that a great feast be prepared, and the heroes drank
until their heads were heavy with wine. But in the morning Rustem came before
the Shah in audience, and opened his mouth and said

     May it please the King to lend his ear unto his slave. I desire to
     return unto Zal, my father.
And Kai Khosrau listened to the just desires of Rustem, though he would fain
have kept him in his courts.

Now when Rustem was departed, Kai Khosrau called before him Byzun, and
he spake to him of that which was come about, and he poured pity upon the
daughter of Afrasiyab when he learned all she had suffered for the sake of Byzun;
and he gave him rich gifts, and bade him bear them unto her, and he said
     Cherish this woman in thy bosom, and suffer not that grief come
     nigh unto her, neither speak to her cold words, for she hath endured
     much for thee. And may thy life beside her be happy.
And when the Shah had thus spoken he dismissed Byzun from his presence.

Thus endeth the history of Byzun and Manijeh.
Chapter 14


M          OURNING and sorrow filled the heart of Afrasiyab because of his
defeat, and he pondered in his spirit how the fortunes of Iran might be retrieved.
So he sent messengers unto all his vassals that they should unsheathe the sword
of strife and make ready an army. And the nobles did as Afrasiyab bade them,
and they got together an host that covered the ground, and sent it forth before
the King. And the King placed Schideh his son at the head thereof, and he said
unto him

     Open not the door of peace, neither treat Kai Khosrau other than
     as an enemy.

Now when the Shah heard tidings of the army that Afrasiyab had made ready
against him, he commanded that no man who could use the bridle and the
stirrup should stay within the borders of Iran. And when the army was ready
he placed at its head Gudarz the wise. But Kai Khosrau bade yet again that
Gudarz should seek to win Piran the Pehliva unto Iran ere the hosts met in
battle. For the Shah remembered the benefits he had received at his hands, and
it grieved him sore to go out against him in enmity. And Gudarz did as the
Shah desired, and when he had crossed the Jihun he sent Gew, his son, unto
Piran that he might speak with him. But Piran shut ear unto the voice of Gew,
and he said that he had led forth his army to battle, and that it behoved him
to do that which was commanded of Afrasiyab.

So the two armies were drawn up in order of battle, and each desired that
the other should fall upon them the first. And for three days and three nights
they faced each other, and you would have said that no man so much as moved
his lips. And Gudarz was posted before his men, and day and night he searched

154                         CHAPTER 14. THE DEFEAT OF AFRASIYAB

the stars and the sun and moon for augury. And he demanded of them whether
he should advance or whether he should stay. And Piran also waited that he
might behold what the Iranians would do.

But Byzun was angry thereat, and he went before his father and entreated
him to urge his grandsire unto action. For surely, he said, Gudarz hath lost his
wits that he thus regardeth the sun and stars, and thinketh not of the enemy.
And Gew strove in vain to quiet him.

And in the ranks of Turan also Human grew impatient, and he asked permission
of his brother to challenge the nobles of Iran to single fight. And Piran sought
to dissuade him in vain. So he got ready his steed of battle, and rode until he
came within the lines of Iran. And when he was come thither he sought out
Rehham, the son of Gudarz, and challenged him to measure his strength. But
Rehham said

      My soul thirsteth after the combat, yet since my father hath com-
      manded that the army advance not, it beseemeth me not to forget
      his behests. And remember, O valiant Turk, that he who ventureth
      first upon the battlefield hath no need to seek the pathway to return.

Then Human said, Men had told unto me that Rehham was a knight of courage,
but now I know that he is afraid. And he turned away his steed and rode until
he came nigh unto Friburz, and he challenged him also in words of pride, and
he said

      Thou art brother unto Saiawush, show now if there live within thee
      aught of valour.

But Friburz answered, Go forth before Gudarz and demand of him that I may
fight, and verily if he listen unto thy voice, it will be a joy unto my soul.

Then Human said, I see that thou art a hero only in words. And he turned his
back upon him also, and he rode till that he came before Gudarz the Pehliva.
And he raised his voice and spake unto him words of insolence, and he defied
him to lead forth his army. But Gudarz would not listen unto his voice. Then
Human turned him back unto the camp of Turan, and he said unto the army
how that the men of Iran were craven. And when the army heard it they raised
shouts of great joy.

Now the shouting of the men of Turan pierced even unto the cars of the Iranians,
and they were sore hurt thereat; and the nobles came before Gudarz and laid
before him their complaints, and they entreated of him that he would lead them
forth that they might prove their valour. And Byzun, when he heard what had
been done, came before his grandsire like to a lion in his fury, and he craved
that he would grant unto him that he might reply unto the challenge of Human.
Now when Gudarz beheld that all the nobles were against him, he listened unto

the ardour of Byzun, and he gave to him leave to go forth, and he accorded to
him the armour of Saiawush, and he blessed him and bade him be victorious.
Then Byzun sent a messenger unto Human, and the place of combat was chosen.
And when the sun was risen they met upon the field, and Human cried unto his
adversary, and he said

     O Byzun, thine hour is come, for I will send thee back unto Gew in
     such guise that his heart shall be torn with anguish.

But Byzun answered and said, Why waste we our time in words, let us fall upon
one another.

Then they did as Byzun desired. And they fought with swords and with arrows,
with maces also and with fists, and sore was the struggle and weary, and the
victory leaned unto neither side. And they strove thus from the time of dawn
until the sun had lengthened the shadows, and Byzun was afraid lest the day
should end in doubt. Then he sent up a prayer unto Ormuzd that He would
lend unto him strength. And Ormuzd listened unto the petition of His servant.
Then Byzun caught Human in his arms and flung him upon the ground, and he
beat out his brains, and he severed his head from off his trunk, that the murder
of Saiawush might be avenged. Then he gave thanks unto God, and turned him
back unto the camp, and he bore aloft the head of Human. And the army of
Iran, when they beheld it, set up a great shout, but from the ranks of Turan
there came the noise of wailing. And Piran was bowed down with grief and
anger, and he commanded the army should go forth and fall upon the Iranians.

Now there was fought a battle such as men have not seen the like. And the
earth was covered with steel, and arrows fell from the clouds like hail, and the
ground was torn with hoofs, and blood flowed like water upon the plains. And
the dead lay around in masses, and the feet of the horses could not stir because
of them. Then the chiefs of the army said among themselves

     If we part not these heroes upon the field of vengeance, there will
     remain nought when the night is come save only the earth that turns,
     and God, the Master of the world.

Yet they withdrew not from the combat until the darkness had thrown a mantle
over the earth, and they could no longer look upon their foes.

Now when the earth was become like unto ebony, the leaders of the hosts met
in conference. And it was decided between them that they should choose forth
valiant men from their midst, and that on the morrow the fate of the lands
should be decided by them. For they grieved for the blood that had been
spilled, and they desired that the hand of destruction be stayed. So when the
morning was come they chose forth their champions, and ten men of valour were
picked from each host, and Piran and Gudarz led them out unto the plain. Now
on each side of the plain uprose a mountain. So Gudarz said unto his comrades
156                          CHAPTER 14. THE DEFEAT OF AFRASIYAB

      Whosoever among you hath laid low his adversary, let him mount
      this hill and plant the flag that he hath won upon its crest, that the
      army may learn whom we have vanquished.
And Piran spake unto his men in like manner. Then the ten drew up and faced
one another, and each man stood opposed to the adversary that he had chosen.
Now Friburz was the first to begin combat, and he was opposed unto Kelbad,
the kinsman of Piran. And he rode at him with fury, and he laid him low with
his bow, and he galloped with joy unto the mountain and planted the standard
of Kelbad upon its crest. Then when it was done, Gew came forward to meet his
adversary, and he was placed over against Zereh, the man whom Kai Khosrau
hated because he had severed the head of Saiawush from its trunk. And Gew
was careful not to slay him, but he threw his cord about him and caught him
in the snares and bound him. Then he took from him his standard, and led
him bound unto the mountain. And there followed after him Gourazeh, and he
too laid low his foe and planted his flag upon the crest of the hill. And likewise
did all the champions of Iran; and when the ninth hour was ended there waved
nine standards from off the hill, and none remained to fight save only Piran and
Gudarz the aged. Then Gudarz girded him for the combat, and for a mighty
space they wrestled sore, but in the end Gudarz laid low the power of Piran.

Now when the Iranians beheld the standard of Piran planted aloft amid those
of his champions, they were beside themselves for joy, and they called down the
blessings of Heaven upon the knight. Then a messenger was sent to bear the
tidings unto Kai Khosrau, and he took with him Zereh that the Shah might with
his own hand sever that vile head from off its trunk. And Kai Khosrau rejoiced
at the news, and he rode forth that he might visit his army. But when he beheld
the body of Piran he wept sore, and he remembered his kindness of old, and he
grieved for the man that had been to him a father. Then he commanded that
a royal tomb be raised unto Piran, and he seated him therein upon a throne
of gold, and he did unto him all reverence. But when it was done he aided his
army to beat back the men of Turan yet again, and he caused them to sue for
peace. And when they had brought forth their armour and piled it at the feet
of Kai Khosrau, he bade them depart in peace. Then he returned with joy unto
his own land, and he gave thanks unto God for the victory that was his. But he
knew also that the time of peace could not be long, and that Afrasiyab would
dream of vengeance.
Chapter 15


N         OW it came to pass as Kai Khosrau foretold. For Afrasiyab, when he
learned the death of Piran, was beside himself with grief. And he lifted up his
voice in wailing, and he spake, saying

     I will no longer taste the joys of life, nor live like unto a man that
     weareth a crown, until I be avenged upon Kai Khosrau, the offspring
     of an accursed race. May the seed of Saiawush perish from off the
     face of the earth!

And when he had so spoken he made ready for yet another war, and from all
corners of the earth the kings came forth to aid him. And Kai Khosrau, when
he learned thereof, got ready his army also, and he sware that he would lead this
war of vengeance unto a good end. So he sent greeting unto Rustem his Pehliva,
and prayed of him that he would aid him in his resolve. And Rustem listened
to the voice of his Shah, and came forth from Zaboulistan with a mighty army
to aid him. Then the Shah confided his hosts unto Tur and Rustem, and the
valleys, and the hills, and the deserts, and the plains were filled with the dust
that uprose from their footsteps. And they were warriors that bare high their
heads, and they knew neither weariness nor fear.

Now when the armies met, Afrasiyab called before him Pescheng, his son, and
bade him bear a writing unto the Shah of Iran. And he wrote, saying

     That which thou hast done, it is contrary to custom; for a son may
     not lift his hand against his father, and the head of a grandson that
     goeth out in enmity against his grandsire is filled with evil. And
     I say unto thee, Saiawush was not slain without just cause, for he

158                      CHAPTER 15. THE PASSING OF KAI KHOSRAU

      turned him away from his ruler. And if thou sayest unto me that I
      am an evil man, and issue of the race of Ahriman, remember that
      thou too art sprung from my loins, and that thy insults fall back
      upon thyself. Renounce, therefore, this strife, and let a treaty be
      made between us, and the blood of Saiawush be forgotten. And if
      thou wilt listen unto my voice, I will cover thee with jewels, and
      gold and precious things will I give unto thee, and joy shall reign
      throughout the land.
But Kai Khosrau, when he had read this message, knew that Afrasiyab sought
only to beguile him. So he sent a writing unto the King of Turan, and he said

      The cause of strife between us is not sprung from Saiawush alone,
      but for that which thou didst aforetime, and which thy fathers did
      unto Irij. Yet that which thou hast done hath caused the measure
      of wrath to overflow. Wherefore the sword alone can decide between

Then he challenged the nobles of Turan to come forth in combat. And he him-
self strove with Schideh, the son of Afrasiyab, and he laid him low after the
manner in which Afrasiyab had laid low the head of Saiawush. And when he
had done so, the army of Turan came forth to avenge their king, but the men
of Iran overcame them. And Afrasiyab was constrained to fly from before the
face of Kai Khosrau, and it was as gall and wormwood unto his spirit. And
Kai Khosrau followed after him, and he would not suffer him to hide himself
from his sight; and he made him come forth yet again in battle, and yet again he
routed him utterly. And the men of Iran slew the men of Turan until the field of
battle was like unto a sea of blood, and they fought until the night covered the
heavens, and the eyes of the warriors were darkened with sleep. And Afrasiyab
fled yet again beyond the borders of Turan, and he craved of his vassals that
they would hide him from the wrath of Kai Khosrau. But the nobles were afraid
of the Shah, and of Rustem, who went with him; and they refused shelter unto
Afrasiyab, and he was hunted over the face of the earth. Then he sought out
the King of China, and asked of him that he would shelter him. And the King
gave him shelter for a while. But when Kai Khosrau learned where Afrasiyab
was hid, he followed after him, and he bade the King of China render to him
his enemy, and he menaced him with fire and sword if he did not listen to his
behest. So the King bade Afrasiyab depart from out his borders. And Afrasiyab
fled yet again, but wheresoever he hid himself he was found of Kai Khosrau,
and his life was a weariness unto him.

Now for the space of two years Kai Khosrau did thus unto Afrasiyab, and the
glory of Turan was eclipsed, and Rustem reigned within the land. And when
the second year was ended the power of Afrasiyab was broken, and Kai Khosrau
bethought him to return unto Iran and seek out Kai Kaous, his sire. And the
old Shah, when he learned it, was young again for joy. He caused his house
to be decked worthy a guest, and he made ready great feasts, and he called

forth all his nobles to do honour unto Kai Khosrau, his son. And all the land
was decked in festal garb, and the world resembled cloth of gold, and musk and
amber perfumed the air, and jewels were strewn about the streets like unto vile

Now when the Shah came nigh unto the city, Kai Kaous went forth to meet
him, and he prostrated him in the dust before his son. But Kai Khosrau suf-
fered it not, but raised him, and he kissed him upon his cheeks, and he took
his hand, and he told unto him of all the wonders that he had beheld upon his
travels, and of the mighty deeds that had been done of Rustem and his men.
And Kai Kaous was filled with marvel at his grandson, and he could not cease
from praising him and pouring gifts before his face. And when they had feasted
the army, and were sated with speech, they went in unto the temple of Ormuzd
and gave thanks unto God for all His blessings.

Now while these things were passing in the land of Iran, Afrasiyab wandered
over the earth, and he knew neither rest nor nourishment. And his soul was
unquiet, and his body was weary, and he feared danger on all sides. And he
roamed till that he found a cavern in the side of a mountain, and he crept into
it for rest. And he remained a while within the cave pondering his evil deeds,
and his heart was filled with repentance. And he prayed aloud unto God that
He would grant him forgiveness of his sins, and the cries of his sorrow rent the air.

Now the sound thereof pierced even unto the ears of Houm, a hermit of the race
of Feridoun, who had taken up his abode in the mountains. And Houm, when
he heard the cries, said within himself, These are lamentations of Afrasiyab.
So he sought out the spot whence they came forth, and when he had found
Afrasiyab he wrestled with him and caught him in his snare. Then he bound
him, and led him even into Iran before the face of Kai Khosrau, that the Shah
might deal with him according to his desire.

Now when Afrasiyab was come before the Shah, Kai Khosrau reproached him
yet again with his vile deeds. And when he had done speaking, he lifted up
his sword and he smote with it the neck of Afrasiyab, and he severed his head
from off his trunk, even as Afrasiyab had done unto Saiawush, his father. And
thus was the throne of Turan made void of Afrasiyab, and his evil deeds had in
the end brought evil upon himself. And Gersiwaz, whom the Shah had taken
captive in the battle, was witness of the fate of his brother. And when he had
looked upon the end of Afrasiyab, Kai Khosrau lifted up the sword against him
also, and caused him to perish in like manner as he had slain Saiawush.

And when it was done, and the vengeance was complete, the Shah caused a
writing to be sent unto all his lands, and to every noble therein and every vas-
sal, even from the west unto the east. And he told unto them therein how that
the war of vengeance was ended, and how that the earth was delivered of the
serpent brood. And he bade them think on the arts of peace and deliver up
160                      CHAPTER 15. THE PASSING OF KAI KHOSRAU

their hearts to gladness. And when it was done Kai Kaous made him ready to
depart from the world. So he gave thanks unto God that He had suffered him
to see the avenging of Saiawush accomplished, and he said
      I have beheld my grandson, the light of mine eyes, avenge me and
      himself. And now am I ready to go forth unto Thee, for thrice fifty
      years have rolled above my head, and my hair is white and my heart
      is weary.
And after he had thus spoken Kai Kaous passed away, and there remained of him
in the world but the memory of his name. Then Kai Khosrau mourned for his
grandsire as was fitting. But when the days of mourning were ended he mounted
again the throne of the Kaianides, and for sixty years did Kai Khosrau rule the
world in equity, and wisdom flourished under his hands. And wheresoever the
Shah looked he beheld that his hand was stretched out in gladness, and there
was peace in all the lands. Then he gave praise unto God that He had suffered
him to do these things. And when he had done so he pondered within himself,
and he grew afraid lest Ahriman should get possession of his soul, and lest he
should grow uplifted in pride like unto Jemshid, that forgot whence came his
weal and the source of his blessings. So he said within himself
      It behoveth me to be careful, for I am sprung from the race of Zohak,
      and perchance I may become a curse unto the earth, like to him.
      Wherefore I will entreat of Ormuzd that He take me unto Himself
      before this evil befall me, since there is no longer work for me to do
      on earth.
Then he gave commandment to the keepers of the curtains that they suffer no
man to enter in upon him, but he bade them refuse it with all kindness. And
when it was done Kai Khosrau withdrew him into the inner courts, and he un-
girded him of his sash of might, and he laved his limbs in a running stream, and
he presented himself in prayer before God his Maker. And for seven days the
Shah stood in the presence of Ormuzd, neither did he weary to importune Him
in prayer.

Now while he did so many great ones of Iran came unto the courts of the
Shah and demanded audience. And it was refused them. Then they murmured
among themselves, and they marvelled why the thoughts of the King should
have grown dark in a time of good fortune. And when they found that their
importunity availed them nought, they consulted among themselves what they
should do. Then Gudarz said

      Let us send tidings of these things even unto Zal and Rustem, and
      entreat of them that they come unto our aid, for perchance Kai
      Khosrau will listen unto their voice.
So Gew was sent forth into Zaboulistan.

Now when he was gone, it came about that on a certain day, when the sun
had lifted his shield of gold above the world, Kai Khosrau ordained that the
curtains of the audience-chamber be lifted. So there came in unto him his Mu-
bids and the nobles, and they stood about his throne, and their hands were
crossed in supplication. Then Kai Khosrau, when he saw it, asked of them what
they desired. So they opened their mouths and said

     May it please the Shah to tell unto us wherein we have failed that
     we are shut out from his presence.

Then Kai Khosrau answered and said, The fault is not with you, and the sight
of my nobles is a feast unto mine eyes. But my heart hath conceived a desire
that will not be quieted, and it giveth me rest neither by day nor by night
and I know not how it will end. Yet the time is not ripe to tell unto you my
secrets, but verily I will speak when the hour is come. Return, therefore, unto
your homes, and be glad in your spirits, and rejoice in the wine-cup, for no foe
troubleth the land, and prosperity hangeth over Iran.

Then when he had so spoken, Kai Khosrau dismissed them graciously. But
when they were departed he gave commandment that the curtains be closed,
and that no man be suffered to enter his courts. And he presented him yet
again before God, and he prayed in the fervour of his spirit, and he entreated of
Ormuzd that He would suffer him to depart from the world now that his task
therein was ended. For he beheld that this life is but vanity, and he yearned
to go hence unto his Maker. And for the space of five weeks did Kai Khosrau
stand thus before his God, and he could neither eat nor sleep, and his heart was

Now it came about one night that Kai Khosrau fell asleep for weariness. And
there appeared unto him a vision, and the Serosch, the angel of God, stood
before him. And he spake words of comfort to Kai Khosrau, and he said that
the Shah had done that which was right in the sight of God, and he bade him
prepare for his end, and he said

     Before thou goest hence choose from amongst thy nobles a king that
     is worthy the throne. And let him be a man that hath a care of
     all things that are created, even unto the tiny emmet that creep-
     eth along the ground. And when thou hast ordered all things, the
     moment of thy departure shall be come.

When Kai Khosrau awoke from his dream he rejoiced, and poured out his thanks
before God. Then he went unto his throne and seated himself thereon, and got
together his treasures. And he ordered the world for his departure.

Now while he did so, Zal and Rustem, his son, were come unto the city, and
their hearts were filled with sore displeasure because of that which the nobles
had told unto them. And the army came forth to greet them, and they wept
162                      CHAPTER 15. THE PASSING OF KAI KHOSRAU

sore, and prayed of Zal that he would turn back unto them the heart of Kai
Khosrau. And they said, A Deev hath led him astray. Then Zal and Rustem
went in before the Shah. And Kai Khosrau, when he saw them, was amazed,
but he was glad also, and he gave them his hand in greeting. And he accorded
to them seats of honour, as was their due, and when he had done so, he asked of
them wherefore they were come forth. Then Zal opened his mouth and spake,

      I have heard, even in Zaboulistan, that the curtains of the Shah
      are closed unto his servants. And the people cry out thereat, and
      men say that Kai Khosrau is departed from the path that is right.
      Wherefore I am come forth to entreat of thee, if thou have a secret
      care, that thou confide it to thy servant, and surely a device may be
      found. For since the days of Minuchihr there is no Shah like to thee,
      but thy nobles are afraid lest thou stumble in the paths of Zohak
      and Afrasiyab. Wherefore they entreat of me that I admonish thee.

Now when Kai Khosrau had listened unto the voice of Zal the aged, he was not
angered, but he answered, saying

      O Zal, thou knowest not that whereof thou speakest. For I have
      withdrawn myself from men that I might do no evil, and I have
      prayed unto God that He take me unto Himself. And now is the
      Serosch come unto me, and I know that Ormuzd hath listened unto
      my voice.

When the nobles heard this they were afflicted, but Zal was angered, and he
deemed that the wits of Kai Khosrau were distraught. And he said

      Since I have stood before the throne of the Kaianides no Shah hath
      spoken words like to thine. And I fear that a Deev hath led thee
      astray, and I implore of thee that thou listen not unto his voice, and
      that thou give ear unto the words of an aged man, and that thou
      turn thee back into the path that is right.

And when Zal had done speaking, the nobles cried with one accord that he had
spoken for them also. Then Kai Khosrau was sorrowful, but he would not suffer
anger to come into his spirit. And when he had pondered, he opened his mouth
and spake, saying

          O Zal, I have given ear unto the words which thou hast spoken,
      give ear now unto the answer. For I have not departed from the
      paths of Ormuzd, and no Deev hath led me astray. And I swear it
      unto thee, even by God the Most High. But because I am sprung
      from Afrasiyab the evil one, and am linked unto the race of Zohak, I
      am afraid, and I fear to grow like to Jemshid and Tur, who wearied
      the world with their oppressions. And, behold, I have avenged my
      father, and have made the world submissive unto my will; and I have

     established justice in the realm, and the earth is glad, wherefore
     there is no longer aught for me to do, for the power of the wicked is
     broken. Therefore, lest I grow uplifted in my soul, I have entreated
     of Ormuzd that He suffer me now to go hence, even unto Himself.
     For I am weary of the throne and of my majesty, and my soul crieth
     for rest.

When Zal heard these words he was confounded, for he knew that they were
true. And he fell in the dust before the Shah, and he craved his forgiveness for
the hard speech that he had spoken, and he wept, saying

     O Kai Khosrau, we desire not that thou go hence.

And the Shah accorded forgiveness unto the old man, because of the great love
he bare him; and he lifted him from the ground and kissed him. And when he
had done so, he bade him go forth with Rustem. And he commanded that the
nobles and all their armies should camp upon the plains. And Zal did as the
Shah desired, and the hosts were encamped without the doors.

Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau mounted upon the crystal throne, and
he held in his hand the ox-headed mace, and he bare on his head the crown of
the Kaianides, and a sash of might was girded round his loins. And on his right
hand stood Rustem the Pehliva, and on his left Zal the aged. And he lifted
up his voice and spake words of wisdom unto his army; and he said unto them
that the sojourn of man was brief upon the earth, and that it became him to
remember his end. And he said how he had also bethought him of his death.
And he spake, saying

     I have made me ready to depart, and my testament will I speak
     before you. I will give richly unto those that have wearied themselves
     in my service, and of those to whom I owe gratitude I will speak unto
     God, and implore of Him that He reward them according to their
     deserts. And I give unto the Iranians my gold, and my armour, and
     my jewels, and whosoever is great among you to him do I give a

Thus for the space of seven days did the Shah sit upon his throne and order his
treasurer how he should act. Then on the eighth he called before him Gudarz
the wise, and he gave to him instructions. And he bade him be kind unto the
poor, and the widowed, and the fatherless, and he entreated him to dry the eye
of care. Then he gave unto him much treasure, and rendered unto him thanks
for the services that he had done before him. And he gave rich gifts also unto
Zal, and Gew, and Rustem, and to all his nobles, according to their degree. And
he desired of them that they should ask a boon at his hands, and whatsoever it
was he gave it. And he spake, saying

     May my memory be hateful unto none.
164                      CHAPTER 15. THE PASSING OF KAI KHOSRAU

Then he called before him Rustem, and praised the mighty deeds that he had
done, and he invoked the blessings of Heaven upon his Pehliva. And after many
days, when all these things were accomplished, the Shah was weary, but his
task was not yet fulfilled. For there was one among the nobles whose name he
had not named. And the others knew thereof, but they ventured not again to
admonish Kai Khosrau, for they were amazed at his wisdom and his justice,
and they saw that he did that which was right.

Now after some time the Shah opened his mouth and called before him Byzun,
and he said
      Lead forth before me Lohurasp, who is sprung from the seed of
      Husheng, the Shah.
And Byzun did as Kai Khosrau commanded.

Now when he had brought Lohurasp before the throne, Kai Khosrau descended
from its height, and he gave his hand unto Lohurasp and blessed him. Then he
put upon his head the crown of the Kaianides and saluted him Shah, and he
      May the world be submissive to thy will.
But the nobles, when they saw it, were confounded, and they murmured among
themselves that Lohurasp should have the kingdom, and they questioned where-
fore they should pay allegiance unto him. Then Kai Khosrau was angered, and
he opened his lips, saying
      Ye speak of that ye know not, and haste hath unbridled your tongues.
      For I say unto you that which I have done I have done justly, and
      in the sight of God, and I know that Lohurasp is a man worthy the
      throne, and that Iran will prosper under his hands. And I desire
      that ye salute him Shah, and whosoever regardeth not this, my last
      desire, I hold him a rebel unto God, and judgment shall fall upon
Now Zal, when he heard these words, knew that they were just. So he stepped
out from among the nobles and came before Lohurasp, and did obeisance unto
him as to the Shah. And the army, when they saw it, shouted their homage
also, and all the land of Iran was made acquainted with the tidings.

Now when it was done, Kai Khosrau turned him to his nobles, saying

I go now to prepare my spirit for death. And when he had so spoken he en-
tered behind the curtains of his house. And he called before him his women,
and he told unto them how he should depart. And they wept sore at the tid-
ings. Then Kai Khosrau confided them unto Lohurasp, and he gave to him safe
counsels, and he said

     Be thou the woof and the warp of justice.

And when all was ready, he gat him upon his horse to go forth into the moun-
tains. And Lohurasp would have gone also, but Kai Khosrau suffered it not.
But there went with him Zal and Rustem, Gudarz also, and Gustahem and Gew,
and Byzun the valiant, and Friburz, the son of Kai Kaous, and Tus the Pehliva.
And they followed after him from the plains unto the crest of the mountains.
And they ceased not from mourning that which was done of Kai Khosrau, and
they said among themselves that never had Shah done like unto him. And they
strove to change his purpose. But Kai Khosrau said unto them

     All is well, wherefore weep ye and trouble my spirit?

Now when they were gone with him the space of seven days, Kai Khosrau turned
unto his nobles and spake, saying

     Return now upon the road that ye are come, for I am about to
     enter in upon a path where neither herb nor water can be found.
     Wherefore I entreat of you that ye spare yourselves this weariness.

Then Zal and Rustem, and Gudarz the aged, listened unto the voice of the
Shah, for they knew that he spake that which it became them to obey. But
the others refused ear unto his voice, and they followed after him yet another
day, but their force was spent in the desert. Now when the evening of that day
was come they found a running stream. Then Kai Khosrau said, Let us halt
in this spot. And when they were encamped he spake unto them of the things
that were past, and he said unto them that when the sun should have lifted up
its face anew they should behold him no longer in their midst, for the time of
his departure was at hand. And when the night was fallen he drew aside and
bathed his body in the water, and prayed unto God his Maker. Then he came
yet again before his nobles, and he awakened them from their slumbers, and he
spake unto them words of parting. And he said

     When the daylight shall be come back, I say unto you, return upon
     your path, neither linger in this place, though it should rain musk
     and amber, for out of the mountains a great storm will arise that
     shall uproot the trees and strip the leaves from off their branches.
     And there shall come a fall of snow such as Iran hath not seen the
     like. But if ye do not as I say unto you, verily ye shall never find the
     path of return.

Now the nobles were troubled when they heard these words, and the slumber
that fell upon their eyelids was fined with sorrow. But when the raven of night
flew upwards, and the glory of the world flooded the earth with its light, Kai
Khosrau was vanished from among them, and they sought out his traces in vain.
Now when they beheld that he was gone, they wept in the bitterness of their
hearts, and Friburz spake, saying
166                      CHAPTER 15. THE PASSING OF KAI KHOSRAU

      O my friends, listen to the words that I shall speak. I pray of you,
      let us linger yet a while in this spot, lest peradventure Kai Khosrau
      should return. And since it is good to be here, I know not wherefore
      we should haste to depart.
And the nobles listened to his voice, and they encamped them on this spot, and
they spake continually of Kai Khosrau, and wept for him, but they forgot the
commandment that he had spoken. Now while they slept there arose a mighty
wind, and it brought forth clouds, and the sky grew dark, and before the day-
light was come back unto the world the earth was wrapped in snow like to a
shroud, and none could tell the valleys and the hills asunder. And the nobles,
when they awoke, knew not whither they should turn, and they sought after
their path in vain. And the snow fell down upon them, and they could not free
them of its might, and though they strove against it, it rose above their heads
and buried them, and after a little the life departed out of their bodies.

Now after many days, when Zal, and Rustem, and Gudarz beheld that the
nobles returned not, they grew afraid and sent forth riders to seek them. And
the men searched long, but in the end they found the bodies, and they bare
them down into the plains. And sore was the wailing in the army when they
beheld it, and a noble tomb was raised above their heads. But Lohurasp, when
he learned that Kai Khosrau was vanished, mounted the throne of the Kaian-
ides. And he called before him his people that they should do allegiance unto
him. And they did so, and the place of Kai Khosrau knew him no more.
Chapter 16


L         OHURASP reigned in wisdom upon the crystal throne, and Iran was
as wax under his hands. And men were content under his sway, save only Gush-
tasp, his son, who was rebellious of spirit. And Gushtasp was angered because
his father would not abandon unto him the sovereignty. Wherefore, when he be-
held that his pleading was vain, he stole away from Iran and sought out the land
of Roum, and the city that Silim his forefather had builded. And he did great
deeds of prowess in the land, so that the King gave unto him his daughter to wife.

Now Lohurasp, when he learned of the mighty deeds done of his son, strove
to win him back unto himself. So he sent forth messengers bearing words of
greeting and entreated of Gushtasp that he would return unto the courts of his
father. And he sware unto him that if he would listen unto his voice, he would
abandon unto him the throne. So Gushtasp listened to the voice of his father,
and he returned him unto Iran. And Lohurasp stepped down from off the throne
of the Kaianides and gave place unto Gushtasp, his son. And one hundred and
twenty years had he reigned in equity, and now that it was done he hid himself
within the temples of Balkh, that he might live in the sight of God, and make
him ready to meet his end. And Gushtasp, his son, ruled the land worthily, and
he administered justice in such wise that sheep could drink at the same brook
as the wolves.

Now when he had sat some while upon the throne, there appeared in the land
Zerdusht, the prophet of the Most High. And he came before the Shah and
taught him, and he went out in all the land and gave unto the people a new
faith. And he purged Iran of the might of Ahriman. He reared throughout
the realm a tree of goodly foliage, and men rested beneath its branches. And
whosoever ate of the leaves thereof was learned in all that regardeth the life to
come, but whosoever ate of the branches was perfect in wisdom and faith. And

168                                             CHAPTER 16. ISFENDIYAR

Zerdusht gave unto men the Zendavesta, and he bade them obey its precepts if
they would attain everlasting life.

But tidings concerning Zerdusht were come even unto Arjasp, who sat upon
the throne of Afrasiyab, and he said within himself, This thing is vile. So he
refused ear unto the faith, and he sent a writing unto Gushtasp, wherein he
bade him return unto the creed of his fathers. And he said

      If thou turn thee not, make thee ready for combat; for verily I say
      unto thee, that unless thou cast out Zerdusht, this man of guile, I
      will overthrow thy kingdom and seat me upon thy throne.

When Gushtasp heard the haughty words that Arjasp had spoken, he marvelled
within himself. Then he called before him a scribe, and sent back answer unto
Arjasp. And he said that he would deliver up unto the sword whosoever swerved
from the paths of Zerdusht, and whosoever would not choose them, him also
would he destroy. And he bade him, therefore, get ready to meet Iran in bat-
tle. Then when he had sent this writing, Gushtasp got together his hosts and
mustered them, and he beheld that they outnumbered the grass upon the fields.
And the dust that uprose from their feet darkened the sky, and the neighing
of their horses and the clashing of their armour were heard above the music of
the cymbals. And the banners pierced the clouds like to trees that grow upon
a mountain. And Gushtasp gave the command of this host unto Isfendiyar, his
son. And Isfendiyar was a hero of renown, and his tongue was a bright sword,
and his heart was bounteous as the ocean, and his hands were like the clouds
when rain falls to gladden the earth. And he took the lead of the army, and he
led it forth into Turan.

Now when the men of Turan and of Iran met in conflict, a great battle was
waged between them, and for the space of twice seven days they did not cease
from combat, neither did any of the heroes close their eyes in slumber. And
their rage was hot one against another, but in the end the might of Iran over-
came, and Arjasp fled before the face of Isfendiyar.

Then Isfendiyar returned him unto Iran, and presented himself before his father,
and demanded a blessing at his hands. But Gushtasp said

      The time is not yet come when thou shouldest mount the throne.

So he sent him forth yet again that he might turn all the lands unto the faith
of Zerdusht. And Isfendiyar did as Gushtasp commanded.

Now while he was gone forth there came before the Shah one Gurjam, who
was of evil mind and foe unto Isfendiyar. And he spake ill of Isfendiyar unto
his father, and he said unto Gushtasp that his son strove to wrest from him
the sovereignty. And Gushtasp, when he learned it, was wroth, and he sent
forth messengers that they should search out Isfendiyar, and bring him before

the Shah in the assembly of the nobles. And when Isfendiyar was come, Gush-
tasp spake not unto him in greeting, but he turned him to his nobles, and he
recounted unto them a parable. Then he told unto them of a son who sought
to put to death his father, and he asked of them what punishment this father
should mete out unto his child. And the nobles cried with one accord

     This thing which thou relatest unto us, it is not right, and if there
     be a son so evil, let him be put into chains and cast in bondage.
Then Gushtasp said, Let Isfendiyar be put into chains.

And Isfendiyar opened his mouth in vain before his father, for Gushtasp would
not listen unto his voice. So they cast him out into a dungeon, and chains of
weight were hung upon him, and the daylight came not nigh unto him, neither
did joy enter into his heart. And he languished many years, and the heart of
the Shah was not softened towards him.

Now when Arjasp learned that the might of Isfendiyar was fettered, and that
Gushtasp was given over to pleasures, he gathered together an army to fall into
Iran and avenge the defeat that was come upon his hosts. So he fell upon Balkh
before any were aware of it and he put to death Lohurasp the Shah and he made
captive the daughters of Gushtasp. And Arjasp threw fire into the temples of
Zerdusht and did much destruction unto the city and it was some while ere
Gushtasp learned that which he had done. But when he had news thereof he
was dismayed, and he called together his army and put himself at their head.
But the Turanians were mightier than he, and they routed him utterly, and
Gushtasp fled before their face. Then the Shah called together his nobles, and
consulted with them how he should act in these sore straits. And one among
them who was wise above the rest said

     I counsel thee that thou release Isfendiyar, thy son, and that thou
     give to him the command, for he alone can deliver the land.
And Gushtasp said, I will do as thou sayest, and if Isfendiyar shall deliver us
from this foe, I will abandon unto him the throne and the crown.

Then he sent messengers unto Isfendiyar that they should unbind his chains.
But Isfendiyar, when they came before him, closed ear unto their voice. And
he said
     My father hath kept me in bondage until he hath need of me. Why
     therefore should I weary me in his cause? I will not go unto his aid.

Then the men reasoned with him, and they told unto him how it had been
revealed unto Gushtasp that the words spoken of Gurjam were false, and that
he had sworn that he would deliver this man of false words unto the vengeance
of his son. But Isfendiyar was deaf yet again to their voice. Then one spake and
170                                               CHAPTER 16. ISFENDIYAR

      Thou knowest not that thy brother is in bondage unto Arjasp. Surely
      it behoveth thee to deliver him.
When Isfendiyar heard these words he sprang unto his feet, and he commanded
that the chains be struck from off his limbs. And because the men were slow,
he was angered, and shook himself mightily, so that the fetters fell down at his
feet. Then he made haste to go before his father. And peace was made between
them on that day, and Gushtasp sware a great oath that he would give the
throne unto Isfendiyar when he should return unto him victorious.

So Isfendiyar went out against the foes of Iran, and he mowed them down
with the sword and he caused arrows to rain upon them like hail in spring, and
the sun was darkened by the flight of the weapons. And he brake the power of
Arjasp, King of Turan, and he drove him out from the borders of the realm.
And when it was done, and the men of Iran had prevailed over the men of Turan,
Isfendiyar presented himself before his father and craved of him the fulfilment
of his promises. But Gushtasp, when he beheld that all was well once more,
repented him of his resolve, for he desired not to give the throne unto his son. So
he pondered in his spirit what he should say in his excuse, and he was ashamed
in his soul. But his mouth revealed not the thoughts of his heart, and he spake
angrily unto his son, and he said
      I marvel that thou comest before me with this demand; for while
      thy sisters languish in the bondage of Arjasp, it beseemeth us not to
      hold this war as ended, lest men mock us with their tongues. And it
      hath been told unto me that they are hidden in the brazen fortress,
      and that Arjasp and all his men are gone in behind its walls. I
      charge thee, therefore, overthrow the castle and deliver thy sisters
      who pine. And I swear unto thee, when thou hast done it, I will
      abandon unto thee the throne, and thy name shall be exalted in the
Then Isfendiyar said, I am the servant of the Shah, let him command his slave
what he shall do.

And Gushtasp said, Go forth.

Then Isfendiyar answered, I go, but the road is not known unto me.

And Gushtasp said, A Mubid hath revealed it unto me. Three roads lead unto
the fortress of brass, and the one requireth three months to traverse, but it is
safe, and much pasture is found on its path. And the second demandeth but
two moons, yet it is a desert void of herbs. And the third asketh but seven days,
but it is fraught with danger.

Then Isfendiyar said, No man can die before his time is come. It behoveth
a man of valour to choose ever the shortest path.

Now the Mubids and the nobles who knew the dangers that were hidden in
this path sought to deter him, but Isfendiyar would not listen to their voice.
So he set forth with his army, and they marched until they came to the spot
where the roads divided. Now it needed seven stages to reach the fortress of
Arjasp, and at each stage there lurked a danger, and never yet had any man
overcome them or passed beneath its walls. But Isfendiyar would not give ear
to fear, and he set forth upon the road, and each day he overcame a danger,
and each danger was greater than the last. And on the first day he slew two
raging wolves, and on the second he laid low two evil Deevs that were clothed
as lions, and on the third he overcame a dragon whose breath was poison. And
on the fourth day Isfendiyar slew a great magician who would have lured him
into the paths of evil, and on the fifth he slew a mighty bird whom no man had
ever struck down. And weariness was not known of Isfendiyar, neither could
he rest from his labours, for there was no camping-place in his road of danger.
And on the sixth day he was nigh to have perished with his army in a deep
snow that fell upon him through the might of the Deevs. But he prayed unto
God in his distress, and by the favour of Heaven the snow vanished from under
his feet. Then on the seventh day he came nigh to perish in a flood of waters
but Isfendiyar overcame them also, and stood before the castle of Arjasp. Now
when he beheld it, his heart failed within him, for he saw that it was compassed
by a wall of brass, and the thickness thereof was such that four horsemen could
ride thereon abreast. So he sighed and said
     This place cannot be taken, my pains have been in vain.
Yet he pondered in his spirit how it might be done, and he knew that only wile
could avail. Wherefore he disguised himself in the garb of a merchant, and chose
forth from his army a hundred camels, and he loaded them with brocades of
Roum and much treasure. A hundred and sixty stalwart warriors too did he
choose forth, and he seated them in chests, and the chests he bound upon the
backs of the camels. And when the caravan was ready he marched at its head
unto the doors of the fortress.

Now when he was come thither, he craved permission of Arjasp that he might
enter and sell unto them that dwelt therein. And Arjasp granted his request,
and gave unto him houseroom, and bade him barter his wares in safety. Then
Isfendiyar spread forth his goods and unloaded the treasures of the camels, but
the chests wherein were hidden the warriors did he keep from the eyes of men.
And after he had sojourned a while in the castle he beheld his sisters, and he
saw that they were held as slaves, and his heart went out towards them. So he
spake to them tenderly, and they knew his voice, and that help was come out
to them, but they held their peace and made no sign. And Isfendiyar, when he
saw that he was trusted of Arjasp, came before him and asked of him a boon.
And Arjasp said that he would grant it. Then Isfendiyar said
     Suffer that ere I go hence I may feast thee and thy nobles, that I
     may show my gratitude.
172                                            CHAPTER 16. ISFENDIYAR

And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, and he made a great feast and troubled
the heads of the nobles with wine. And when their heads were heavy and
the moon was seated upon her silver throne, Isfendiyar arose and let forth his
warriors from the chests. Then he fell upon the nobles and slew them, and they
weltered in their blood. And with his own hand Isfendiyar struck down Arjasp,
and he hung up his sons upon high gallows. Then he made signals unto his army
that they should come forth to aid him, for there were yet many men hidden
in the fort, and Isfendiyar had but a handful wherewith to withstand them.
And they did as he desired, and there was a great slaughter within the brazen
fort, but Isfendiyar bare off the victory. Then he took with him his sisters and
much booty, and made haste to return unto Iran, and come into the presence
of Gushtasp, his father. And the Shah rejoiced in his sight, and he made a
great feast, and gave gifts richly unto all his servants. And the mouths of men
overflowed with the doughty deeds done of Isfendiyar, and there was gladness
throughout the land.
Chapter 17


W         HEN a little while had been passed in feasting, Isfendiyar came before
Gushtasp, his father, and demanded the fulfilment of the promises that he had
made unto him. And he recalled unto Gushtasp how he had mistrusted him
and thrown him into chains. And he spake of the doughty deeds that he had
done at his behest, and he craved him to remember that Isfendiyar was his son.
And Gushtasp knew that that which was spoken was right, but he desired not
to abandon the throne. Wherefore he communed within him what he should
do. Then he opened his mouth and spake, saying

         Verily thou hast done that which thou sayest, and there is none
     who is thine equal in this world, save only Rustem, the son of Zal.
     And he acknowledgeth none his like. Now because he is grown proud
     in his spirit, and hath rendered no homage unto me, neither is come
     forth to aid me against Arjasp, I desire that thou go forth unto
     Zaboulistan, and that thou lead out the Pehliva, and bring him
     bound before me, that he may know that I am the Shah, and that
     he must do my behests. And when thou shalt have done it, I swear
     unto thee by Him from whom cometh all strength, and who hath
     kindled the sun and the stars unto light, that I will step down from
     the throne, neither withhold it from thee any longer.

Then Isfendiyar said, O King, I would entreat of thee that thou ponder the
words that thou hast spoken. For thine ancestors held this old man, ripe in
wisdom, in much honour, and he was a staff unto their throne. Now since thou
calledst him not forth, it was not fitting he should aid thee against Turan.

But Gushtasp would not listen unto the words of Isfendiyar, and he said

174                            CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

      If thou lead not Rustem bound before me, I will not grant unto thee
      the throne.

Then Isfendiyar said, Thou sendest me forth in guile on this emprise, for verily
no man hath stood against the might of Rustem, wherefore I perceive that thou
desirest not to abandon unto me the throne. I say unto thee, therefore, that
I desire it no longer; but since I am thy slave, it beseemeth me to obey thy
behests. I go forth therefore, and if peradventure I fall before Rustem, thou
wilt answer unto God for my blood.

And when he had so spoken, Isfendiyar went out of the presence of the Shah,
and he was exceeding sorrowful. Then he gathered together an army, and he
set forth upon the road that leadeth to Seistan.

Now when they were gone but a little way, the camel that walked at their
head laid him down in the dust. And the drivers struck him, but he would not
rise from the earth. Then Isfendiyar said, The omen is evil. But he commanded
the driver that he cut off the head, that the evil might fall upon the beast and
tarnish not the glory of the Shah. And it was done as Isfendiyar desired, but
he could not rid him of his sadness, and he pondered in his spirit this sign.

Now when they were come unto the land of Zaboulistan, Isfendiyar spake, saying

      I will send an envoy unto Rustem, a man prudent and wise. And
      I will entreat of the Pehliva that he come before me with gladness,
      for I desire no evil unto him, and I come forth only at the behest of
      the Shah.

Then he called before him Bahman, his son, and he spake long unto him, and he
charged him with a message unto Rustem. And he bade him speak unto the son
of Zal how Gushtasp was angered because he sought not his courts, wherefore
he deemed that Rustem was grown proud in his spirit, and would uplift himself
above his Shah. And he said

      The King hath sent me out that I lead thee before him. I pray thee,
      therefore, come unto me, and I swear unto thee that no harm shall
      befall thee at his hands. For when I shall have led thee before him,
      I will demand as my guerdon that he suffer thee to go unharmed.

So Bahman laid up these words in his spirit, and he went with all speed unto
the courts of Rustem. Now, he found therein none but Zal, for Rustem was
gone forth with his warriors to chase the wild ass. And Zal came forth with
courtesy to greet Bahman, and he asked of him his desires, and he invited him
unto a feast. But Bahman said

      My mission doth admit of no delay. Isfendiyar hath bidden me not
      tarry by the road. Tell me, therefore, where I may find thy son.

Then Zal showed unto him the way.

Now when Bahman was come unto the spot, he beheld a man like unto a
mountain, who was roasting a wild ass for his supper. And in his hand was
a wine-cup, and about him stood brave knights. Then Bahman said within
himself, Surely this is Rustem, and he watched him from where he was hid, and
he beheld that Rustem devoured the whole of a wild ass for his meal, and he
was amazed at the might and majesty of this man. Then he thought within
him, Peradventure if I cast down a rock upon him, I may slay him, for surely
even Isfendiyar, my father, shall not withstand his strength. So he loosened a
rock from the mountain-side, and set it rolling unto the spot where Rustem was
encamped. Now Zevarah heard the sound thereof, and beheld the rock, and he
said unto Rustem

     Behold a rock that springeth forth from the mountain-side.

But Rustem smiled, and arose not from his seat; and when the rock was upon
him, he lifted up his foot and threw it far unto the other side. Then Bahman was
amazed, but he was affrighted also, and he dared not come forth at once. Yet
when he was come before the Pehliva, Rustem greeted him kindly, and would
have entertained him. And Bahman suffered it, and he marvelled yet again
when he beheld that which was eaten of Rustem, and he was afraid. Then he
delivered unto him the message of Isfendiyar, his father. And Rustem listened
unto it, and when it was ended he spake, saying

         Bear greeting unto the hero of renown, and say unto him that I
     have longed to look upon his face, and that I rejoice that he is come
     forth unto Zaboulistan. But his demand is the device of Deevs, and
     I would counsel him that he depart not from the paths of wisdom.
     And I say unto him, Count not upon thy strength, for it is given to
     no man to shut up the winds within a cage, neither can any man
     stand against my might. And I have ever done that which was right
     before the Shahs, thy fathers, and no man hath beheld Rustem in
     chains. Therefore thy demand is foolish, and I bid thee abandon
     it, and honour my house with thy presence. And when we shall
     have feasted, I will go forth with thee before Gushtasp, thy father,
     and the reins of my horse shall be tied unto thine throughout the
     journey. And when I shall be come before the Shah, and shall have
     taken counsel with him, I know that his anger against me, which is
     unjust, will vanish like unto smoke.

Then Rustem sent a messenger unto Rudabeh, his mother, to make ready a
great feast in his courts. And Bahman sped back unto his father.

Now Isfendiyar, when he had listened unto the words sent by Rustem, mounted
his steed, and rode forth to meet him. And Rustem was come forth also, and
they met beside the stream. Then Rakush swam across its breadth, and the
176                            CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

hero of the world stood before Isfendiyar, and he greeted him, and did homage
unto the son of his Shah. And Rustem rejoiced in the sight of Isfendiyar, and
he deemed that he beheld in him the face of Saiawush. And he said unto him
      O young man, let us commune together concerning the things that
      divide us.
And Isfendiyar assented unto the desires of Rustem, and he pressed him unto
his bosom, and his eyes could not cease from gazing upon his strength. Then
Rustem said
      O hero, I have a prayer to make before thee; I crave that thou enter
      into my house as my guest.
And Isfendiyar said, I cannot listen unto thy demand, for the Shah commanded
me neither to rest nor tarry until I should have brought thee unto him in chains.
But I entreat of thee that thou consider that the chains of the King of kings do
not dishonour, and that thou listen willingly unto the desires of the Shah, for I
would not lift my hand in anger against thee, and I am grieved that it hath been
given unto me to do this thing. But it behoveth me to fulfil the commandments
of my father.

Thus spake Isfendiyar in the unquietude of his spirit, for he knew that what
was demanded of Rustem was not fitting or right. And Rustem replied, saying
      It would be counted shame unto me if thou shouldst refuse to enter
      into my house. I pray thee, therefore, yet again that thou accede
      to my desires, and when it shall be done I will do that which thou
      desirest, save only that I cannot submit unto the chains. For no
      man hath beheld me fettered, neither shall any do so while I draw
      my breath. I have spoken, and that which I have said, it is true.
And Isfendiyar said, I may not feast with thee, and if thou listen not to my
voice, I must fall upon thee in enmity. But to-day let there be a truce between
us, and drink thou with me in my tents.

And Rustem said, I will do so gladly, suffer only that I go forth and change
my robes, for I am clad for the chase. And when thy meal shall be ready, send
forth a messenger that he may lead me thither.

And when he had so spoken, Rustem leaped upon Rakush and returned unto
his courts. Now when he had arrayed himself for the banquet, he awaited the
envoy that Isfendiyar should send. But Isfendiyar was full of cares, and he said
unto Bashuntan, his brother
      We have regarded this affair too lightly, for it is full of danger.
      Wherefore I have no place in the house of Rustem, neither should
      he enter into mine, for the sword must decide our strife. For which
      cause I shall not bid him unto my feast.

Then Bashuntan answered and said, A Deev hath led thee astray, O my brother,
for it is not fitting that men like unto Rustem and Isfendiyar should meet in
enmity. Wherefore I counsel thee that thou listen not unto our father, for his
desires are evil, and he seeketh but to ensnare thee. Yet thou art wiser than he;
abandon, therefore, this device of evil.

But Isfendiyar answered and said, If I obey not the words of the King, my
father, it will be a reproach unto me in this world, and I shall have to render
account for it in the next before God, my Maker. And I would not lose both
worlds because of Rustem.

Then Bashuntan said, I have given unto thee counsel according to my wis-
dom, it resteth with thee to do as thou desirest.

Then Isfendiyar bade the cooks serve before him the banquet, but he sent not
forth to call Rustem unto the feast.

Now Rustem, when he had waited a long while and beheld that Isfendiyar
sent not to call him forth, was angered, and he said
     Is this the courtesy of a King?
And he sprang upon Rakush and rode unto the tents of the prince that he might
question him wherefore he regarded Rustem thus lightly. Now the warriors
of Iran, when they beheld the Pehliva, murmured among themselves against
Gushtasp, and they spake as with the voice of one man, that surely the Shah
was bereft of reason or he would not thus send Isfendiyar unto death. And they
     Gushtasp loveth yet more his treasures and his throne as age creep-
     eth upon him, and this is but a device to preserve them unto himself.
Now Rustem, when he had presented himself before Isfendiyar, spake and said
         O young man, it would seem unto me that thou didst not deem
     thy guest worthy a messenger. Yet I say unto thee that it is I who
     have made the throne of Iran to shine out unto all the world, and
     I have ever been the Pehliva of its Shahs, and have endured much
     pain and toil for their sakes. And I have not passed a day save in
     doing that which is right, and I have purged the land of its enemies.
     I am the protector of the Kings of Iran, and the mainstay of the
     good in all places of the earth. Wherefore it behoveth thee not to
     treat me thus disdainfully.
Then Isfendiyar said, O Rustem, be not angered against me, but listen where-
fore I sent not forth to call thee. For the day was hot and the road long, and I
bethought me that fatigue would come upon thee from this course. Therefore I
had resolved to visit thee in the morning. But since thou hast taken upon thee
178                            CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

this fatigue, I pray of thee that thou rest within my tents, and that we empty
the wine-cup together.

Then he made a place for him at his left hand.

But Rustem said, This is not my place. It is not fitting that I should sit upon
thy left, for my seat hath ever been at the right hand of the Shah.

Then Isfendiyar bade a chair of gold be brought, and he caused it to be placed
upon his right, and he bade Rustem be seated upon it. And Rustem sat him
down, but he was angered in his spirit because of the dishonour that Isfendiyar
had shown unto him.

Now when they had drunk together awhile, Isfendiyar lifted up his voice and
      O Rustem, it hath been told unto me that thine origin is evil, for
      thou art sprung from a Deev whom Saum cast forth from his house.
      And he was reared of a vile bird, and his nourishment was garbage.
Then Rustem said, Why speakest thou words that do hurt? And he told unto
him of his father, and Saum, and Neriman who was of the race of Husheng the
Shah. And he vaunted the great deeds done of his house, and he hid not that
which he had accomplished himself, and he said
      Six hundred years have passed since I came forth from the loins of
      Zal, and for that space I have been the Pehliva of the world, and
      have feared neither that which was manifest, nor that which was
      hid. And I speak these things that thou mayest know. Thou art
      the King, and they that carry high their heads are thy subjects, but
      thou art new unto the world, wherefore thou knowest not the things
      that are come to pass.
When Isfendiyar had listened unto the words of Rustem, he smiled and spake,
      I have given ear unto thy voice, give ear now also unto the words
      that I shall speak.
Then he vaunted him of his forefathers, and he recounted unto Rustem how
that he had overcome the Turks, and how Gushtasp had cast him into chains,
and he told him of the seven stations, and that he had converted the world unto
the faith of Zerdusht. And he said
      We have spoken enough concerning ourselves, let us drink until we
      be weary.
But Rustem said, Not so, for thou hast not heard all the deeds that I have done,
for they are many, and the ear sufficeth not to hear them, nor the mouth to tell.

For if thou knewest them, thou wouldest not exalt thyself above me, or think
to cast me into chains.

And he recounted to him yet again of his deeds of might.

But Isfendiyar said, I entreat of thee that thou apply thyself unto the wine-
cup, for verily thou shalt fall tomorrow in the fight, and the days of thy feasting
shall be ended.

And Rustem answered, Boast not thus rashly, thou shalt yet repent thee of
thy words. But to-morrow will we meet in conflict since thou desirest it, and
when I shall have lifted thee from off thy saddle, I will bear thee unto my house
and spread a feast before thee, and pour upon thee my treasures. And when it
shall be done, I will return with thee unto the courts of the Shah, thy father,
and uproot from his spirit this plant of evil. And when thou shalt be mounted
into his seat, I will serve thee with gladness as thy Pehliva.

But Isfendiyar said, Thy words are idle, and we waste but our breath in talk of
combat. Let us therefore apply us to the banquet.

And they did so, and ate and drank until the night was far spent, and all
men were amazed at the hunger of Rustem.

Now when it was time for him to depart, he prayed Isfendiyar yet again that he
would be his guest, and yet again Isfendiyar refused it to him, and he said

      Suffer that I put chains about thee, and lead thee forth into Iran,
      that Gushtasp be satisfied. But if thou wilt not do this thing, I must
      attack thee with the spear.

Now Rustem, when he heard these words, was sorrowful in his soul. And he
thought within him

          If I suffer these chains it is a stain that cannot be wiped out, and
      I cannot outlive my dishonour, for men will mock at Rustem, who
      permitted a boy to lead him bound. Yet if I slay this youth, I do
      evil, for he is son unto the Shah, and my glory will be tarnished, for
      men will say I lifted my hand against a Kaianide. And there can
      arise no good out of this combat. Wherefore I will strive yet again
      to win him unto wisdom.

So he lifted up his voice and said, I pray thee listen not to the counsel of Deevs,
and shut thy lips concerning these chains. For it seemeth unto me that Gush-
tasp desireth evil against thee, that he sendeth thee forth against Rustem, the
unvanquished in fight. Dishonour, therefore, not the champion of thy fathers,
but feast within my gates, and let us ride forth in friendship unto Iran.
180                            CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

But Isfendiyar said, I charge thee, old man, that thou waste not words con-
cerning this thing, for I will not disobey the behests of my father. Prepare,
therefore, for combat; for to-morrow I will make the world dark unto thine eyes.

Then Rustem said, O foolish youth! when I grasp my mace, the head of my foe
is lost. Prepare thee rather for thine end.

And when he had so spoken, he rode forth from out the tents of Isfendiyar,
and he was exceeding sorrowful. But Isfendiyar smiled after him and said
      The mother that hath borne thee shall weep. I will cast thee down
      from Rakush, I will lead thee bound into Iran.
But once again did Bashuntan come before Isfendiyar, and he pleaded with him
for Rustem, and he bade him remember the great deeds that he had done unto
Iran, and he desired him not to lift his hand against the Pehliva.

But Isfendiyar said
         He is a thorn in my rose-garden, and through him alone can I
      attain unto the throne. Strive not, therefore, to hinder me, for thy
      pains will be in vain. For Zerdusht hath spoken that whosoever
      honoureth not the behests of his king, he shall surely suffer the
      pains of hell. And my father hath told unto me to do this thing,
      and though I grieve to do hurt unto Rustem, the desires of the Shah
      must be accomplished.
Then Bashuntan sighed and said, Alas! a Deev hath taken possession of thy

Now Rustem, when he was come into his house, commanded that his leopard-
skin should be brought before him, and his helmet of Roum, his spear of Ind
also, and the war garb of Rakush. And when he saw them, he said
      O my raiment of battle, ye have rested a long time from strife, yet
      now must I take you forth again to combat, and it is for the hardest
      fight that ye have fought. For I must lift my hand against the son
      of my master, or suffer that he disgrace me in the sight of men.
And Rustem was sad, and all night he spake unto Zal of his end, and what he
should do if he fell in battle.

Then when the morning was come he girded on his armour, but he resolved
in his spirit that he would strive again with Isfendiyar in words. So he rode
forth unto the tents of the young King; and when he was come nigh unto them
he shouted with a loud voice. And he said
      O Isfendiyar, hero of great renown, the man with whom thou wouldst
      wrestle is come forth; make thee ready, therefore, to meet him.

Then Isfendiyar came out from his tents, and he was armed for battle. Now
when they were met, Rustem opened his mouth and prayed him yet again that
he would stay his hand from this impiety. And he said
     If thy soul thirsteth after blood and the tumult of battle, suffer that
     our hosts meet in combat, that thy desires may be satisfied.
But Isfendiyar said, Thy talk is folly; thou art armed for the conflict, let not
the hours be lost.

Then Rustem sighed and made him ready for combat. And he assailed Is-
fendiyar with his lance, but with a nimble stroke Isfendiyar resisted his attack.
And they fought with their lances until they were bent, and when that was done
they betook them unto swords. And ever the heroes parried the strokes that
were dealt. And when their swords were broken they seized upon maces, but
either hero warded off the blows. And they fought until that their shields were
rent and their helmets dinted with the blows, and their armour was pierced in
many places. And it was a bitter fight. But the end thereof came not, and
they were weary, and neither had gained the upper hand. So they rested them
awhile from combat. But when they were rested they fell again one on another,
and they fought with arrows and bows. And the arrows of Isfendiyar whizzed
through the air and fastened into the body of Rustem and of Rakush his steed;
and twice thirty ar-rows did Isfendiyar thus send forth, until that Rakush was
like to perish from his wounds. And Rustem also was covered with gore, and
no man before this one had ever done harm unto his body. But the arrows
of Rustem had done no ill unto Isfendiyar, because Zerdusht had charmed his
body against all dangers, so that it was like unto brass.

Now Isfendiyar, when he beheld that Rustem staggered in his seat, called out
unto him to surrender himself into his hands and suffer chains to be put about
his body. But Rustem said

Not so, I will meet thee again in the morning, and he turned and swam across
the stream, so that Isfendiyar was amazed, for he knew that the steed and rider
had been sore wounded. And he exulted in his heart, and he reviled Rustem
with his lips, but in his soul he was filled with wonder at the Pehliva, and his
heart went out to him.

Now when Zal and Rudabeh beheld the Pehliva and that he was wounded,
they rent the air with their cries, for never yet was he returned unto them van-
quished, neither had any man done hurt unto the elephant-limbed. And they
wailed sore in their distress, and Rustem joined his lamentations unto theirs.
Then they pondered how they should act, and Zal bethought him of the Simurgh
that had been his nurse, and the feather that she had given him from her breast
that he might call upon her in the day of his need. So he brought it and cast it
into the fire as she had commanded, and straightway a sound of rushing wings
filled the air and the sky was darkened, and the bird of God stood before Zal.
182                              CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

And she spake and said unto him

      O my son, what is come about that thou callest upon thy nurse that
      shielded thee?

Then Zal told her all, and how Rustem was nigh to die of his wounds, and how
Rakush too was sick unto death. Then the Simurgh said

      Bring me before them.

And when she had seen them, she passed her wings over their hurts and forthwith
they were whole. Then she spake unto Rustem and questioned him wherefore
he sought to combat the son of the Shah, and Rustem told her. Then she said

           Seek yet again to turn Isfendiyar unto thyself; yet if he listen not
      unto thy voice, I will reveal unto thee the secrets of Fate. For it
      is written that whosoever sheddeth the blood of Isfendiyar, he also
      shall perish; and while he liveth he shall not know joy, and in the
      life to come he shall suffer pains. But if this fate dismay thee not, go
      forth with me and I will teach thee this night how thou shalt close
      the mouth of thine enemy.

Then the Simurgh showed unto Rustem the way he should follow, and Rustem
rode after her, and they halted not until they were come unto the sea-coast. And
the Simurgh led him into a garden wherein grew a tamarisk, tall and strong,
and the roots thereof were in the ground, but the branches pierced even unto
the sky. Then the bird of God bade Rustem break from the tree a branch that
was long and slender, and fashion it into an arrow, and she said

      Only through his eyes can Isfendiyar be wounded. If, therefore, thou
      wouldst slay him, direct this arrow unto his forehead, and verily it
      shall not miss its aim.

Then she exhorted him once more that he bring this matter to a good end, and
she led him on the path of return unto Zaboulistan, and when he was come
there she blessed him and departed from out his sight.

Now when the morning was come, Rustem came unto the camp of Isfendi-
yar, and he was mounted upon Rakush his steed. And Isfendiyar slumbered, for
he thought that of a surety Rustem was perished of his wounds. Then Rustem
lifted up his voice, and cried

      O man, eager to fight, wherefore slumberest thou when Rustem
      standeth before thee?

Now Isfendiyar, when he heard his voice and saw that it was truly Rustem that
stood before him, was amazed, and he said unto his nobles

      This is the deed of Zal the sorcerer.

But unto Rustem he cried, Make ready for combat; for this day thou shalt not
escape my might. May thy name perish from off the earth.

Then Rustem spake, saying
     I am not come forth to battle, but to treaty. Turn aside thine heart
     from evil, and root out this enmity. Make not, I pray thee, thy soul
     to be a dwelling-place for Deevs. And suffer that I recall unto thee
     the deeds I have done for Iran, and the list thereof is long. And
     feast this day within my house, and let us ride forth together unto
     the courts of the Shah, that I may make my peace with Gushtasp
     thy father.
But Isfendiyar was angered at these words, and he said
     Wilt thou never cease from speaking? Thou exhortest me to quit
     the paths of God, for I do wrong when I obey not the voice of my
     father. Choose, therefore, betwixt chains and the combat.
When Isfendiyar had so spoken, Rustem knew that his speech was of no avail.
So he sighed and made ready for combat; and he took forth the arrow that was
given to him of the Simurgh, and he let it fly towards his enemy. And it pierced
the eye of the young King, and he fell upon the mane of his steed, and his blood
reddened the field of battle. Then Rustem said unto him
     The bitter harvest thou hast sown hath borne fruit.
Now Isfendiyar swooned in his agony and fell upon the ground. And there came
out to him his brother and Bahman, his son; and they wailed when they beheld
how his plight was evil. But when he was come unto himself he called after
Rustem, and the Pehliva got him down from Rakush and came unto where he
lay, and knelt beside him. And Isfendiyar said
         My life ebbeth unto the close, wherefore I would confide unto
     thee my wishes. And thou shalt behold how greatly I honour thee,
     for it is not thou that hast brought me unto death, but Gushtasp,
     my father; and verily the curse of the prophet shall fall upon his
     head, for thou wert but the instrument of Fate. And listen now unto
     the words that I shall speak, for it is not given unto me to say manyI
     desire that thou take unto thyself Bahman, my son, and that thou
     rear him in the land of Zaboulistan, and that thou teach him the
     arts of war and of the banquet. And when the hour of Gushtasp
     shall be come, I charge thee that thou put Bahman in his place, and
     aid him with thy counsels that he may be upright in the sight of
And Rustem sware unto him that it should be done at his desire. Then Isfendiyar
made him ready to depart, and he spake words of comfort unto his son, and
he sent greetings unto his mother and to his wives that were in Iran. And he
184                             CHAPTER 17. RUSTEM AND ISFENDIYAR

made them say unto his father that hence-forward he need not fear him beside
the throne; and he cursed the name of Gushtasp, and he said that the Shah had
done that which was worthy of his black soul. And he bade them speak before
the throne and say

      We shall meet again before the judge, and we shall speak, and listen
      to His decree.

Then he said unto Rustem, Thou hast done this deed by the arts of magic.

And Rustem said, It is true, for thou wouldst not listen unto my voice, and
I could not bend my spirit unto chains.

And Isfendiyar said, I am not angered against thee; thou hast done that thou
couldst not alter, for it was written in the stars, and surely that which is written
in the stars is accomplished.

Then Rustem said, God is my witness that I strove to turn thee from thy resolve.

And Isfendiyar said, It is known unto me. And when he had thus spoken he
sighed, and the sun of that King was set. And there was great lamentation for
him in the army, and Rustem, too, bewailed the hero that was fallen, and he
prayed God for his soul. And he said

      May thine enemies reap that which they have sown.

Then Rustem made ready for Isfendiyar a coffin of iron, and he caused it to be
lined with silken stuffs, and he laid therein the body of the young King. And it
was placed upon the back of a dromedary and forty others followed in its wake,
and all the army of Isfendiyar came after them, clad in robes of mourning. And
Bashuntan marched at the head of the train, and he led the horse of Isfendiyar,
and its saddle was reversed, and its mane and its tail were shorn. And from its
sides hung the armour of the young King. And weeping resounded through the
ranks, and with sorrow did the army return unto Iran.

But Rustem remained in Zaboulistan, and he kept beside him Bahman, the
son of Isfendiyar.

Now when Gushtasp learned the tidings of woe, he was bowed down to the
earth with sorrow, and remorse came upon him and he strewed dust upon his
head and he humbled himself before God. And men came before him and re-
proached him with that which he had done unto Isfendiyar, and he knew not
how he should answer them. And Bashuntan came in and saluted him not, but
upbraided him with his vile deeds. And he said

      Neither the Simurgh, nor Rustem, nor Zal have made an end of
      Isfendiyar, but only thou, for thou alone hast caused him to perish.

And for the space of one year men ceased not to lament for Isfendiyar, and for
many years were tears shed for that arrow. And men cried continually, The
glory of Iran hath been laid low, and it is at the hands of her Shah that it hath
been done.

But Bahman grew up in the courts of Rustem, and the Pehliva guarded him
like to a son.
Chapter 18


H        OW shall a man escape from that which is written; How shall he flee
from his destiny?

There stood a slave in the house of Zal, and she was fair to see, so that the
heart of the aged man went out to her. And there was born to her a son, goodly
of mien, like unto Saum the hero, and Zal named him Shugdad. Then he con-
sulted the Mubids concerning him, and they searched the stars for his destiny,
and they read therein that he would do much evil in the house of his father,
and lay low the race of Saum, the son of Neriman. Now Zal, when he heard
this, was sore afflicted, and he prayed unto God that He would avert this fate
from his head. And he reared him tenderly, and when he was come unto mans
estate he sent him forth into Cabul. And the King of Cabul rejoiced in the sight
of the hero, and he kept him beside him and gave unto him his daughter to wife.

Now the King of Cabul paid tribute unto Rustem, and it was a grievance to
him to do so, and since he had taken Shugdad as his son he deemed that it was
fitting that he should be relieved of this burden. And he spake thereof unto
Shugdad, and said how Rustem ceased not to demand it.

And Shugdad said, This man is foolish. What mattereth it whether he be
my brother or a stranger, let us consider how we may ensnare him.

So Shugdad and the King of Cabul passed a night pondering how they should
bring Rustem unto destruction. And Shugdad said

     Call together thy nobles unto a feast, and when thou shalt have
     drunk wine, speak insults unto me, and I will be angered and ride
     forth unto Zaboulistan and make plaint of thee before Rustem, and
     assuredly he will come forth to avenge me. And while I am gone,

188                               CHAPTER 18. THE DEATH OF RUSTEM

      cause a deep pit to be dug on the road that Rustem must pass, a
      pit that will swallow him and Rakush his steed, and line the sides
      thereof with sharp spears, and swords, and lances. And when it is
      done, cover it with earth and let no man know thereof, nay, whisper
      it not even unto the moon.

And the King said, Thy device is good, and he made a great feast and called
thereto his warriors, and he spake words of insult unto Shugdad, and he re-
proached him, and said that he was not of the race of Saum, but son unto a
slave. And he said that Rudabeh would refuse to him the name of brother unto
Rustem. And he spake lightly also of Rustem. Then Shugdad uprose as though
he were angered, and vowed that he would ride unto Zaboulistan and call forth
Rustem to avenge the words that the King had spoken.

Now when Shugdad was come unto the courts of Zal, and had told unto Rustem
the words that the King of Cabul had spoken, he was beside himself with anger,
and he said

      I will slake my vengeance for this speech.
Then he chose out an army and made ready to go into Cabul. But Shugdad
      Wherefore dost thou take forth so large an army? Surely Cabul shall
      be obedient when it but looketh upon thy face. Yet this army will
      cause the King to think that thou holdest him an enemy worthy of
Then Rustem said, That which thou sayest, it is wise, and he disbanded the
army, and took with him but few men and rode with them to Cabul.

In the mean season the King of Cabul had done that which Shugdad had coun-
selled, and the pits that had been dug were concealed with cunning. Now when
Rustem came nigh to the city, Shugdad sent a messenger before him unto the
King of Cabul, saying
      Rustem cometh against thee, it behoveth thee to ask pardon for thy
And the King came forth, and his tongue was filled with honey, but his heart
was filled with poison. And he bowed himself in the dust before Rustem, and
he asked his forgiveness for the words that he had spoken, and he said

      Consider not the words of thy servant that he did speak when his
      head was troubled with wine.
And Rustem forgave the King, and consented to be his guest. Then a great
banquet was made, and while they feasted the King told unto Rustem how his
forests were filled with wild asses and with rams, and he invited him to hunt

therein ere he should return unto Zaboulistan. And these words were joy unto
the ears of Rustem, and he consented unto the desires of the King. So the next
day the King made ready a great hunt, and he led it unto the spot where the
pits were hidden. And Shugdad ran beside the horse of Rustem, and showed
unto him the path. But Rakush, when he smelt the soil that had been newly
turned, reared him in air, and refused to go onwards. Then Rustem commanded
him to go forward, but Rakush would not listen to his voice. And Rustem was
angry when he beheld that Rakush was afraid. But Rakush sprang back yet
again. Then Rustem took a whip and struck him, and before this day he had
never raised his hand against his steed. So Rakush was grieved in his soul, and
he did that which Rustem desired, and he sprang forward and fell into the pit.
And the sharp spears entered his body and tore it, and they pierced also the
flesh of Rustem, and steed and rider were impaled upon the irons that had been
hidden by the King. But Rustem put forth all his strength, and raised himself.
Yet when he had done it he was weary, and fell down beside the pit. And he
swooned in his agony.

Now when Rustem was come unto himself, he saw Shugdad, and he beheld
in his face the joy felt of this evil man at this adventure. Then he knew that it
was his brother that was his foe. So he said unto him

     It is thou who hast done this deed.

And Shugdad said, Thou hast caused many to perish by the sword; it is meet
that thou shouldst perish by it thyself.

Now while they yet spake, the King of Cabul came nigh unto the spot. And
when he beheld Rustem, that weltered in his blood, he feigned a great sorrow,
and he cried

     O hero of renown, what thing hath befallen thee?

I will send forth my physicians, that they heal thee.

And Rustem said, O man of wile, the time of physicians is gone by, and there
is none that can heal me, save only death, that cometh to all men in their turn.

Then he said unto Shugdad, Give unto me my bow, and place before me two
arrows, and refuse not unto me this last request. For I would have them beside
me lest a lion go by ere I am dead, and devour me for his prey.

And Shugdad gave unto Rustem his bow; but when he had done so he was
afraid, and he ran unto a plane tree that stood near by. And the tree was old
and hollow, and Shugdad hid himself in its trunk. But Rustem beheld him
where he was hid, though the dimness of death was come over his eyes. So he
raised him from the ground in his agony, and he took his bow and bent it with
force, and he shot an arrow and fixed Shugdad unto the tree wherein he was
190                                CHAPTER 18. THE DEATH OF RUSTEM

hid. And the aim was just, and pierced even unto the heart of this evil man, so
that he died. And Rustem, when he saw it, smiled, and said
      Thanks be unto God, the Merciful, whom all my days I have sought
      to serve, that He hath granted unto me to avenge myself upon this
      wretch while the life is yet in me, and ere two nights have passed
      over this vengeance.
But when he had so spoken the breath went out of him, and the hero who had
borne high his head was vanished from this world.

Now a warrior of the train of Rustem rode with all speed unto Zaboulistan,
and told unto Zal the tidings of sorrow. And Zal was dismayed thereat, and
his grief was boundless, and he cried continually after his son, and he heaped
curses upon Shugdad, that had uprooted this royal tree. And he said
      Wherefore have I been suffered to see this day? Wherefore have I not
      died before Rustem, my son? Wherefore am I left alone to mourn
      his memory?
Now while he lamented thus, Feramorz, the son of Rustem, gathered together
an army to avenge his father. And he went into Cabul, and he laid low all the
men he found therein, and he slew the King and all his house, and he changed
the land into a desert. And when he had done so, he sought out the body of
Rustem, and of Rakush his steed, and he did unto them all honour, and they
were borne in sorrow unto Zaboulistan. And Zal caused a noble tomb to be
built for Rustem, his son, and he laid him therein, and there was placed beside
him also Rakush, the steed that had served him unto the end.

And the wailing throughout the land because of the death of Rustem was such
as the world hath not known the like. And Zal was crushed with sorrow, and
Rudabeh was distraught with grief. And for many moons were no sounds save
those of wailing heard in the courts of Seistan. And Rudabeh refused to take
comfort, and she cried without ceasing
      He is gone before us, but we shall follow. Let us rest our hopes in
And she gave unto the poor of her treasures, and daily she prayed unto Ormuzd,
      O Thou who reignest above, to whom alone pertaineth honour and
      glory, purify the soul of Rustem from all sin, and grant that he rejoice
      in the fruits that he hath sown on earth, and give him a place beside

And now may the blessing of God rest upon all men. I have told unto them the

Epic of Kings, and the Epic of Kings is come to a close, and the tale of their

deeds is ended.

The End

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